Friday, May 30, 2008

Buttermilk Cornbread

Corn has long been a staple in Native American cuisine and is prepared in a variety of ways including ground into cornmeal and baked or fried. Cornbread was popular among European settlers and later in the American Civil War due to its cheapness, versatility and ease of preparation. Today, it is especially popular in the South and often identified as soul food.

Over the years regional variations in preparation have developed. Northern cornbreads are often sweetened with sugar, honey or molasses; Southern versions are flavoured with lard or bacon drippings; and newer Southwest variations include jalapeno peppers, cheese and corn kernels. There are also variations in the types of corn common in each region – yellow corn in the North, white corn in the South and blue corn in the Southwest.

Cornbread can take many forms beyond the common baked variety. The batter can be turned into jonnycakes, corn pone and hush puppies among others. Italian cornmeal, known as polenta, is often served as mush but it can be fried and baked similar to cornbread.

Serves 8

3/4 cups cornmeal
3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 small eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
8-ounces whole kernel corn, drained (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.
3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add buttermilk, butter and corn.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and pour batter into a greased 8-inch cake pan.
5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden. Cool in the pan and cut into slices to serve.

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