The story of cornbread goes back a long way, and forms part of America’s culinary history. The native Americans had mastered the ability to dry and grind cornmeal, (the fundamental ingredient of cornbread) long before the Europeans arrived. It was favoured because an easy cornbread could be made very simply. With its dense texture, flat shape and relatively small bulk, cornbread could be stored and transported across long distances, while providing decent levels of nutritional value to the community.
As there were several unique varieties of corn that grew throughout the American continent, cornbread took on its own flavour, colour and texture according to the region the corn was grown. Blue corn was common in the Southwest, whereas the northern areas preferred yellow corn and the Southerners favoured white corn. As the types of corn differed, so did the methods for making cornbread.
Early in America’s history, the native Americans made cornbread from a simple dough, made of water, cornmeal and salt. The northern regions took to adding sweeteners like honey, molasses and sugar to their cornbread. Whereas in the South, they preferred their cornbread to be savoury and would use eggs, bacon fat or lard to give it a richer flavour.
Wherever corn is grown you can find a recipe for cornbread. As with traditional wheat bread, cornbread has taken on many forms and reflects the culture from which it came. In Mexico, cornbread is enjoyed with the addition of jalapeno peppers. Cornbread muffins and sweet cornbread are eaten traditionally in the northern areas. I have even tried a recipe in which the Mohawk Indians in Canada, make a healthy cornbread using kidney beans.
Cornbread has yet to be discovered by most Europeans and what a great shame that is- you are really missing out on a culinary treat! So here’s my recipe you just have to try:
This recipe is my super healthy cornbread, mixing the traditional native American and Southern method of using only cornmeal, with a little northern sweetener just to bring out the flavours. I have also included coconut oil, it is a recent discovery of mine that I think makes cornbread as tasty as using bacon fat, but perhaps a little healthier! We rarely have any buttermilk to hand as it’s not easy to find here in the UK, so I use yogourt. Like the Southerners, I use a cast iron skillet to make my cornbread, although you could use an oven-proof dish if you prefer.
Healthy Cornbread Recipe
- 2 tbsp of organic extra virgin coconut oil
- 340g/ 2 cups of stoneground cornmeal
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp of raw honey
- 425g/ 1 3/4 cups of yogourt
- 2 tsp of baking powder
- 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp of salt
- cast iron skillet
What to do
Turn your oven to 200 C/Gas Mark 6/ 400. F Spoon your coconut oil into the cast iron skillet and place in the oven. Blend the cornmeal, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt together. In a separate mixing bowl blend the honey, yogourt and egg together until it’s smooth in consistency. Then add the wet mixture to the dry and mix together until all the ingredients are well blended together. Grab some oven gloves and bring the skillet out of the oven and swish the liquid oil around until it completely coats the surface. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the skillet and bake until golden for around 25 minutes. Serve with chili beans and a green salad.
Bonne Appétit x
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