Getting Creative With Cornbread

isa

3,236
11
Joined Apr 4, 2000
Getting creative with cornbread
Ronnie Fein
Los Angeles Times


American ingenuity keeps life interesting even when it comes to simple stuff, like corn bread. Corn bread, one of the most enduring of all American recipes, began as a plain, flat, unleavened cake made with only two ingredients: ground, dried cornmeal and water. It has evolved over the centuries and today comes in many guises, several shapes and lots of flavors.

Even from the earliest days, home cooks improved the recipe by adding an innovative touch here and there. The original versions were cooked in the fireplace and became covered with soot, hence the understandable name, "ashcake." But women quickly realized that they could cook the batter in a utensil held above the fire. They called this corn pone or spider bread, depending on the shape of the pan.

Leavening came next and corn breads cooked puffy, tender and crumbly. They also became much more popular.

Then, some savvy cook decided to mix some crispy bits of fried pork fat into the batter and invented Cracklin' Bread. Some added more liquid, and johnnycakes came to be. New England housewives stirred in molasses and raisins, and Boston Brown Bread was born.
The recipes also changed as the pioneers went West. People took advantage of local ingredients to enhance the corn bread's taste and texture. In the Midwest, for example, kernels of fresh corn accented the dish and gave the bread a double dose of corn flavor. In the Southwest, the mix was seasoned with hot chili peppers.

Preparing your own versions at home is simple. You may be as inventive as your creative mind dictates. You may choose bread or muffins -- the same batter will work for either; even the timing is similar.

It's the right season for this recipe. A warm, fragrant slice of corn bread or a muffin is appealing for breakfast on winter mornings. Either comes in handy as an accompaniment to soup for lunch or supper.

Ronnie Fein is the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cooking Basics." Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service.

About Cornbread

To embolden the flavor of the cornbread, you can embellish in many ways: Add about a 1/2 cup of thawed, frozen corn kernels or grated Cheddar cheese, or 6 slices of crumbled bacon. Sprinkle in a chopped chili pepper for heat.

There are two standard recipes for regular corn bread, one made with milk, the other with buttermilk (and 1/2 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder). The latter bread is more tender and crumbly.

Brown Sugar Cashew Corn Bread is a sweeter bread, better for breakfast, snack or even dessert. Cashews are soft and aromatic, harmonizing well with the brown sugar and seasonings; you may substitute pecans.

If you prefer a soft, finely textured corn bread, use the finely ground cornmeal found in most supermarkets. Those who fancy a coarser, more grainy loaf should use "stone ground" meal available in some supermarkets and health food stores.


Maple-Sweetened Corn Muffins
Makes 12 muffins.

1/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease 12 muffin tins. Melt the butter with the maple syrup and set the mixture aside to cool.

In a bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the egg and milk together until well blended. Pour the melted butter mixture and egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.

Spoon equal amounts of the batter into the muffin tins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are puffed and golden brown.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 132, Carbohydrates 17 g, Protein 3 g, Fat 6 g including sat. fat 3 g, Cholesterol 32 mg, Sodium 265 mg, Calcium 92 mg, Dietary fiber 1 g,

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/ starch exch., and 1 fat exch.


Corn Bread
Makes 1 (8-inch) square loaf.

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, beat the eggs and milk together until well blended. Pour the melted butter and the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool it in the pan 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cake rack to cool completely (or serve the bread warm).

Nutrition information per 1/16 serving:
Calories 101, Carbohydrates 14 g, Protein 3 g, Fat 4 g including sat. fat 2 g, Cholesterol 35 mg, Sodium 240 mg, Calcium 58 mg, Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/ starch exch., and 1 fat exch.

Buttermilk Corn Bread with Chives and Thyme
Makes 1 (8-inch) square loaf.

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly minced chives
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chives and thyme.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and buttermilk together until well blended. Pour the melted butter and the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool it in the pan 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cake rack to cool completely (or serve the bread warm).

Nutrition information per 1/16 serving:
Calories 100, Carbohydrates 13 g, Protein 3 g, Fat 4 g including sat. fat 2 g, Cholesterol 36 mg , Sodium 240 mg, Calcium 33 mg, Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/ starch exch., and 1 fat exch.

Brown Sugar Cashew Corn Bread
Makes 1 (8-inch) square loaf.

4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) butter
1 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cashew nuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg.

In another bowl, beat the eggs and buttermilk together until well blended. Pour the melted butter and the egg mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Fold in the cashews.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool it in the pan 10 minutes, then invert it onto a cake rack to cool completely (or serve the bread warm).

Nutrition information per 1/16 serving:
Calories 130, Carbohydrates 16 g, Protein 4 g, Fat 6 g including sat. fat 3 g, Cholesterol 36 mg, Sodium 247 mg, Calcium 44 mg, Dietary fiber 1 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/ starch exch., and 1 fat exch.
 
65
10
Joined Feb 9, 2002
This is great- thank you! Just a few days ago I bought cornmeal for the first time because I wanted to try cornbread for a change. It's something I never tried making myself before. Now I have several recipes to choose from - so again, thank you! I hadn't had time to go looking for any recipes yet (maybe I should cool it on all the chit-chatting...:0).

Do you suppose it would be all right to use the sugar-free Maple Syrup in the recipe with Syrup? I hope so. It's all i have. I guess I'll find out won't I!? ;)
 
2,938
11
Joined Mar 4, 2000
The small amount of maple syrup in the recipe will not only add a touch of sweetness, but will also help darken the surface of the bread. With such a small amount in the recipe, I don't think the difference in color will be huge. The inside may be ever-so-slightly less moist with the removal of natural sugar. But I wouldn't worry too much about it.
 
65
10
Joined Feb 9, 2002
That's pretty much what I was hoping because it really isn't a major ingredient.
I wanted to make it today but didn't have time. When I do I"ll try to remember to pop back in and let you know how it turned out!
 
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