Sunday, November 25, 2012

Corn bread - native, hearty, festive and quick

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Laura who lived with her Ma & Pa, older sister Mary and baby sister Carrie. They left their Big Woods home in Wisconsin and started to move towards the wild Western states in search of better life, wild west was also known as Indian country. They had to travel for many many days in their big caravan and camp at nightfall.

''..Pa brought water from the creek, while Mary and Laura helped Ma get supper. Ma measured coffee beans into the coffee-mill and Mary ground them. Laura filled the coffee pot with the water Pa brought, and Ma set the pot in the coals. She set the iron bake-oven in the coals too. When it heated, she mixed cornmeal and salt with water and patted it into little cakes. She greased the bake-oven with a pork rind, laid the cornmeal cakes in it, and put on its iron cover. Then Pa raked more coals over the cover, while Ma sliced fat salt pork. ...The coffee boiled, cakes baked and they all smelled so good that Laura grew hungrier and hungrier..."

That is a small excerpt from the Little house books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read this over & over with my little girl. It is an autobiographical series from the late 1800s where much of America was still unpopulated and life was farming based and pre-industrialization. The stories are very heartfelt, makes you fall in love with the Ingalls family as they go through their ups and downs in life but more importantly I think it is a story from the times when family values were held high. If you have little girls and boys and looking for bed time reads, I would strongly recommend these books.

Well, back to today's recipe, I made some corn bread for our Thanksgiving brunch, corn bread is a very native American recipe that is hugely popular for its simplicity and taste. As you see above, in the olden days the humble corn bread was cooked with just salt and water and may be a little bit of fat if you could manage it. The easy bake cake has morphed into suave variations and Mexican immigrants have added their own touch with peppers in these corn breads. These keep well and taste good when cold also and hence easy to carry on travels. Southern corn breads usually are sweeter and have eggs in them. I like it spicier, skip the egg and reduce the sugar.
Indiana is known as the cornfields of midwest and I have seen corn fields and corn until your 'eyes can tire of the sight'. As you drive by, you could reach out and touch the ripe corn cobs by the roadside. Corn  is put into many uses including fuel generation.

There are many variations of eggless corn bread on the web and here is my adaptation from a few different sources. This corn bread is perfectly moist and 'just right' crumbly in your mouth.
What do you need to make corn bread? 
Makes a 8" pan about 2" cooked pieces
1 cup corn meal (I used coarse yellow corn meal)
1 cup all purpose flour or maida
1.5 cups milk (Use soy or almond milk to make it vegan)
1.5 Tblsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tblsp sugar
3/4 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1 Tsp baking powder
1/4 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
2 Tblsp oil
1 jalepeno pepper, washed, deseeded and chopped into small pieces (Optional)

How do you make corn bread? 
  • Pour milk and cider in a bowl, mix with a spoon and set aside for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the flour, corn meal, salt, sugar, corn kernels, baking soda & baking powder in a wide bowl and mix them until well incorporated. 
  • Pour in the milk+cider mixture, add oil and mix lightly until everything folds in together. 
  • Pre heat oven to 425F, prepare a 8" pan with a spray of cooking spray. 
  • Pour the batter and add the jalepeno pieces on top. 
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. 
  • Let cool and cut into wedges. 
  • You can use plain vinegar and increase the amount of sugar by another Tsp if you like it sweeter. 
  • You can bake the mixture in small muffin cups for individual serving. 
  • I add the jalepeno on half of the pan and leave the other half for heat intolerant people.
  • You can be creative and add other spices to make the corn bread customized to your taste - I add roasted, ground cumin sometimes.
Here is a view of our Thanksgiving brunch with the mysuru masala dose, cranberry chutney, baked BN squash, baked sweet potatoes, pomogranate mosaranna and corn bread


LG said...

Nicely laid out table for Thanks giving. I absolutely loved your idea of using bell peppers on the bread. Makes me hungry now.

Sangeetha Nambi said...

Wow ! Its yummy for sure...

NamsVeni Pothas said...

corn bread is really very tasty and delicious . Thanks Giving brunch table is wow!! beautiful.

Vimitha Anand said...

I tried this sometime back and totally loved it. Looks yum

Priya said...

Cornbread looks simply fabulous, i havent learned little house series in books but saw them as serial here.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Love the jalapenos in the corn bread

Anonymous said...

in the ingredients you say
1.5 milk , is that cup or tblspoon ?

Nagashree said...

Anonymous - Thanks for visiting. just updated the post. It is indeed 1.5 cups milk, thanks for noticing.

Julie said...

lovely design on top with jalapenos,yummy bread!!
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