I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone that wasn’t a fan of cornbread. There are just too many things to love about it.
For instance, it’s versatility.
- smothered in chili
- topped with maple syrup + butter
- topped with honey
- eaten as “breakfast for dinner”
- eaten for breakfast
- snacked on every time you pass through the kitchen
Cornbread is definitely a childhood favorite, and I had yet to make a traditional style cornbread since going GF. I’ve made a few cornbread breakfast bakes, but it was finally time to attempt real cornbread.
I know people are very particular about their cornbread.
Some say “absolutely no sugar!”
Some say “only with sugar.”
Some like to add peppers + spice.
Some like to add corn kernels.
Some like it with a very fine texture + some like it heartier with cornmeal crunch.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle…
Lightly sweetened, with a hint of salt, a medium-ground cornmeal, and sometimes with corn kernels.
After looking at about 20 recipes for cornbread, I saw many commonalities.
Typically – 1c cornmeal, 1c all purpose flour, anywhere from 0-1/2c sugar, 1-2 eggs, 2-4T baking powder, some with oil or butter and some without, 1c of milk, and 1/2-1t salt, and an oven temp anywhere from 350-425.
From there, I devised my first plan.
- 1 1/2c medium ground cornmeal
- 1/2c millet flour
- 1T baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1c + 2T almond milk [mixed with 1T apple cider vinegar to turn into “buttermilk”]
- 3/4t salt
- 3T butter
- 2T honey
Instead of actually mixing the butter in the batter, a method I’ve learned is to heat it in the oven, in the pan. Then you remove the pan from the oven, carefully swirl the butter around to grease all the sides and pour in the batter. It soaks up the butter and makes an amazing crust on the bottom, especially if you use a cast iron pan.
The issues with trial 1:
- air pockets [evident below]
- too fluffy + cakelike, not dense enough [likely due to using 2 eggs]
- too gritty [too much cornmeal]
- slightly too salty
- sweetness was not detectable
- only had almond milk on hand to make the buttermilk, and the vinegar was slightly detectable
It worked and didn’t fall apart, but definitely was not the winning recipe.
On to version 2.
Plan of attack: lower salt, add more honey, only use 1 egg, change up flour ratios, use a finer grade of cornmeal
All I had on hand was course ground cornmeal, so I ground it in my blender until it was a finer consistency. Somewhere between a fine + medium grind.
The air pockets and cake-like texture disappeared. It was soft, thick + fairly smooth.
There were no issues with this being crumbly. It held together really well and didn’t seem at all delicate, when removing from the pan. The final recipe was actually the 3rd trial. There were two small changes from #2 and #3. The milk was slightly upped and instead of melting 3T of butter in the pan before baking, I added 1T of melted butter to the batter and 2T melted in the pan. It definitely helped keep things moist.
- 3/4c fine-medium ground cornmeal
- 3/4c masa harina [or plain corn flour]
- 1/2c raw buckwheat flour [ground in a blender from raw buckwheat groats]
- 1 1/4c milk
- 3T honey [brown rice syrup or maple syrup]
- 1 egg
- 3t baking powder
- 1/2t salt
- 3T butter
- Preheat your oven to 400* and get out a 8-9” square or circular baking dish or cast iron pan.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients, until combined.
- In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the milk, honey, egg and 1T melted butter, until combined.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, until just combined. Make sure the large lumps are mixed up, but the batter will not be completely smooth.
- Let sit 5min, and while that is sitting add 2T of butter to the baking dish or cast iron pan.
- Bake for 5min, pull out of the oven, and carefully tilt the pan to grease the edges with butter.
- Pour the batter in and gently spread it around the pan. It should be very thick.
- Place in the oven and bake for 24-28min, varying slightly with pan size. I used a 9” cast iron pan and it took 26min. Toothpick test for doneness. The edges will be golden brown and the top will be cracked.
- Let cool for 10min, then slice + serve.
High altitude modifications: 1 1/3c milk : 2.5t baking powder
*The flour ratios are very adaptable. Feel free to sub in other flours besides buckwheat. Even whole wheat flour will work. Just realize, some flours might affect the flavor [like garbanzo, amaranth, quinoa, etc.]
*The type of milk is also very flexible. I used unsweetened almond milk, because it was all I had on hand. Feel free to use cow’s milk, 1/2 milk + 1/2 cream, real buttermilk, or any nut-milk.
*You can use oil in place of butter, but butter makes a noticeable difference in the flavor. Coconut oil can also be used.
*Feel free to add chopped jalapenos or 1c frozen [but thawed] corn to the mix as well.
My favorite thing about this recipe, is that you can throw it together in a pinch!
And to add to the versatility list…
It can be heated and plopped in a bowl of oats with maple syrup + butter, the morning after a chili feast.
So long zucchini bread. I’ve made a new friend.