This cornbread came as a total surprise.
Last Friday was deliciously cold and rainy. (Though folks in town for the Balloon Fiesta probably did not find it so delicious. Ask anyone in Albuquerque – the rainiest week of the year is invariably Balloon Fiesta week!) The weather had me craving that old favorite, chili and cornbread. So, naturally, I pulled out The Cornbread Gospels by one of my longtime favorite authors, Crescent Dragonwagon. I bought this book last year and haven’t used it much. Honestly, it’s a little daunting; 200 recipes for cornbread is a lot to sift through.
So I asked Arne for guidance. “What kind of cornbread do you want, honey?” He wanted one of those dense, wet, casserole-style cornbreads, the ones with creamed corn in them. So I found “Carroll’s Extra-Moist Cornbread,” a recipe with creamed corn – and one for which I had all the ingredients on hand – and I didn’t think about it much until I was putting the dry ingredients together and realized the bread had no white flour, just a tablespoon of cornstarch. And then, before placing the batter-filled pan in the oven, I was asked to let it rest for 20 minutes on the counter. Hmm.
I let the batter rest, as I was told, and then baked it. It came out of the oven a gorgeous shade of gold, but not outwardly unusual. It was not until I bit into a piece that I realized how exceptional this bread was – intensely corn-flavored, at once featherlight and lusciously moist. Amazingly, it held together in neat squares, but practically melted in our mouths. I hypothesize that the two unusual points I mentioned above work together to create this marvelous texture; the cornstarch means there is no gluten to toughen the bread, while the resting period both softens the grains of the cornmeal and gives the leaveners extra time to work.
There’s one point about which I am a touch sore at Dragonwagon: She utterly failed to describe how amazing this recipe is. She mentioned that it is easy, which is true; she mentioned “signature rich delicacy,” but that note was buried in a dense paragraph. If Arne hadn’t requested a cornbread with creamed corn, I might never have baked this bread. Don’t make the mistake I almost made! Try this right away.
Light, Moist, Golden Cornbread
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream (or try lowfat)
1/4 cup canola or other mild vegetable oil
1 cup canned creamed corn
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8×8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk the baking soda into the yogurt to activate it. Whisk in the oil, creamed corn, and eggs.
Combine the cornmeal, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; stir to thoroughly combine. Pour over the yogurt mixture and stir together just enough to combine evenly.
Transfer the batter to the pan and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Place in hot oven and bake 40 minutes, until golden brown.