making cornbread with fine cornmeal
Okay, folks, so after discovering that what is sold as "cornflour" in Irish supermarkets is actually cornstarch, my quest for real cornmeal brought me to a whole foods health store, where I picked up both polenta and fine "maize flour." The actual cornmeal that I use at home is somewhere in between the polenta and the maize flour. I'm worried that using the polenta will result in cornbread that is too gritty, so I think I'll opt to use the maize flour which is quite fine--about the same as regular wheat flour. Has anyone tried making cornbread with this stuff? Any recipes and tips to share? I've got the buttermilk and am already to go!
I've only used, I think, one package of fine corn flour. My impression was that it worked fine in Southern style cornbread, one that uses just cornmeal, and gets much of its texture from the crust that forms in a hot pan. In the northern style, using half flour and corn, it may get lost. The bread will cook fine, but just not have the grittiness that distinguishes it from an all wheat quick bread.
A couple of ways of dealing with the coarser polenta. Soak it in (butter)milk before making the batter. Cooks Illustrated does this with their cornmeal biscuits. Or pour boiling water over it, and let sit for 10 minutes. Joy of Cooking does this with a cornmeal pancake recipe. I've also made a spoon bread (a custardy version of cornbread) starting with cooked grits.
I've also seen recipes for 'polenta cake', that start with Italian instant polenta.
Here's one that calls for fine cornmeal
It's not very different from todao's. It includes some flour, which probably helps hold together better (less crumbly). Bacon fat would be more traditional than baking spray. Both depend on baking powder for leavening. Baking soda could be used along with the butter milk (same sort of proportions as in soda bread). The baking soda also helps it brown (acid batters don't brown as much).
Sugar is a matter of preference and taste. In these quantities (less than a 1/4 cup) it doesn't change baking qualities.
Thanks for the recipe, paulj! I used it tonight and loved the results! The texture was fantastic--crumbly, as cornbread should be, but not too dense or gritty. I think I might actively seek out fine cornmeal in the future.
I replaced the cooking oil in the recipe with melted butter, which I added straight to the already-mixed batter instead of mixing in with the wet ingredients (to prevent either curdling the eggs or cooling the butter.) I also hate to use cooking spray with cornbread and I didn't have any saved bacon drippings on hand, so I greased the pan with butter as well and just made sure it didn't burn while it was heating in the oven. (Yes, this is a lot of butter but Irish butter is amazing and cheap when you're actually in its country of origin!) Didn't end up using any baking soda (although I have in the past) but it browned up quite nicely. And, although I like a more savory cornbread, I added just a dash of sugar because I think it brings out the "corny" taste a little more--not enough to make it actually sweet though. It was a delicious accompaniment to my Southern greens (which were an adventure in themselves).
I will definitely be using this recipe again!
1 cup corn maize
1 cup AP flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (buttermilk if you have it)
2 ounces veg. oil
Bake 25 min 425 degrees F (220 C)
Bread should be light, more cake like. For heavier version reduce AP by half and increase corn maize by half.
If you like it sweet, add about 1/4 cup of sugar.