Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Corn is cheaper than wheat. This is true now and has generally been true for a long time. It therefore follows that flour or meal made from corn makes a more economical bread than one using wheat flour. Native Americans were using cornmeal to make cornbread before European explorers arrived in the New World. There has been a continuous history of cornbread there ever since. I associate it particularly with the south but in fact it is common throughout the States, though in the north it may be a little sweeter and is more likely to be fried in the south. But wherever it is made it is a combination of milled corn, buttermilk and an egg with a vast range of possibilities of what else to add to make a new version.

I had cooked a ham for Sunday and really fancied thick slices of it with a fried egg on top of a chunk of cornbread with a pile of spiced dressed salad on the side Monday night. Once I'd made the bread and salad I could sit back while the man actually produced dinner - a process I love.

The basic recipe I used came from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's column in the Guardian with a few tweaks.
135g plain flour
125g cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
½-1 tsp fine sea salt (depending on how salty your cheese is)
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
A few grinds black pepper
150g tin corn kernels
100g strong cheddar, grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 tspn chilli flakes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp runny honey (or caster sugar)
140ml buttermilk
140ml whole milk
30g unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/ gas mark 7. Put the butter into a 23cm x 23cm x 4cm baking tin.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, bicarb and pepper. Stir in the sweetcorn, cheddar, onions and chilli flakes.

Pour the eggs into a jug with the honey, buttermilk and milk and whisk together.

Put the pan with the butter into the oven for a few minutes till the butter is melted. Take the pan out and make sure the butter covers all the surfaces.

Pour the egg/milks mix into the dry ingredients, stirring, until everything is just combined. Don't overmix - a few lumps in the batter is fine. Pour the batter into the prepared pan straight away, and bake until the top is golden and the edges have slightly pulled away from the sides, about 20-25 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm.

This makes a good sized pan of well flavoured crumbly bread that was equally enjoyable next day cold for a mid morning snack.
And the day after that I sliced the last of the tipan and split the cornbread and made ham sandwiches.
And they were very good indeed.

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