Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in 3 tablespoons cheese. Combine buttermilk, water, and egg, stirring with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened.
Divide batter evenly among 10 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle batter evenly with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool muffins completely on a wire rack.
Note: Place in heavy-duty zip-top plastic bags, and freeze for up to 3 months.
The light, fluffy texture is unusual in a cornmeal muffin, perhaps because they are basically a wheat muffin with a little cornmeal and cheese. That said, they are delicious and more a good accompaniment than anything startling on their own. I'd make them many times to go with soup or stew. Maybe add some corn kernels next time or use sharp cheese.
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