Thursday, 10 October 2013

Corn Bread

Corn Bread.  I've never had it before but whilst planning a meal for friends which involved some chilli con carne I wanted an accompaniment that wasn't boring old rice for a change.

Then I thought of corn bread.  It's not something you see often in the UK but it sounded like a great and different option for mopping up the chilli sauce as well as a way of getting veggies into people!  There are apparently two ways of making corn bread, in the oven as you would a standard loaf of bread or in a pan or a skillet.  To be honest that sounded more like a flat bread to me rather than a big chunky loaf which is what I was after so I researched recipes and amalgamated a couple of them into this version.  This is a pretty simple variety but I did come across versions studded with jalapeno's, smoked sausage, rosemary, thyme, one even had peaches in it!
The first hurdle was getting hold of corn meal - absolutely essential.  This wasn't easy (i.e they didn't have it in the first supermarket I looked in so I went to a specialist store that I knew would have it rather than waste time trawling over the other 5 supermarkets in the town) and involved a trip up the motorway to Macknade Fine Foods farm shop in Faversham for a bag of the stuff. 

Everything else was easy though.

The bread itself isn't actually a bread either as we know it.  There is no yeast involved for one thing and it comes out more cake-like in texture and very dense; it is incredibly filling and a little goes a long way.  This particular version came out fairly sweet - I personally don't think it needs the sugar and the sweetcorn and next time I will just omit the sugar.   Due to the denseness of the batter mix it also took a good couple of hours to cook!
The mix is really simply - get hold of a large bowl (the largest you have) and a baking tin - any shape but about 20cm diameter and quite deep would be about right.

Grease the tin, pre-heat the oven to 200C and then get your mixing bowl.
In the bowl you will want:

375g plain flour
225g cornmeal (yellow cornmeal will give your bread that lovely golden tone)
1 tsp salt
110g sugar (it will be rather sweet so you could omit this and reduce the liquid accordingly)
480 ml milk (semi-skimmed)
2 free range eggs
4 tsp baking powder (the batter is very heavy and needs a lot of rising agent)
110g melted butter
Mix it altogether until you have a smooth batter that is similar in consistency to a sponge cake mix.   Once it is smooth you then want to add a 300g drained can of sweet corn kernels.  Mix it all again to thoroughly combine it and pour the mixture into your baking tin.

Bake at the top of the oven for 20 minutes at 200C then reduce the temperature to 150C and bake for another hour.  Remove and check the interior with a skewer - it needs to come out clean.  If it is coming out with liquid batter still on it put it back in the oven for periods of 10 minutes at a time and keep checking.  The finished product should have a light golden colour, crisp crust and dense but crumbly interior. 
Remove and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the tin before removing to a cooling rack.

Carve into big rustic hunks and serve with lots of gravy or sauce.  It mops up well!


  1. That's definitely interesting looking corn bread. :) Being from the US South myself, I've never had "loaf" cornbread, and certainly not cornbread with a crust like that. Proper cornbread is always made in a HOT cast iron skillet or as corn muffins.

    Also traditional cornbread doesn't have any flour in it - only cornmeal. You can add whole corn kernels, cheese, peppers, or any other interesting and tasty additions, but traditional cornmeal is plain, unsweetened, and slightly crumbly.

    Here's a very basic recipe that can be tweaked any number of ways.

    1. Hi Kara, thanks for commenting! It's always really interesting to hear from people who grow up with dishes that have a cultural or regional tradition behind them. This version was based on an amalgamation of quite a few different ones, most of which did have flour in them but that may be because they were from UK sites and cornmeal is a little harder to get hold of over here (it's normally found in specialist aisles!) I had seen a lot of recipes that called for it to be cooked on a skillet but pouring batter into a pan (if it's not for pancakes) just feels so wrong to me! I will give it a go next time though. Thanks for the recipe link!

      Becs x

  2. Oops - correction: "but traditional cornBREAD is plain, unsweetened, and slightly crumbly."