Cornbread has been a staple of meals in the southern states of America. This came from the Native Americans using maize (ground corn) for thousands of years before any settlers came. Settlers learned the original recipes and processes for corn dishes from the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek, before they soon devised recipes for using cornmeal in breads similar to those made of grains available in Europe.
By using this cornbread recipe you will be recreating this ultimate southern side which goes well with chilli or barbecue foods for that authentic touch. We made this recipe especially to see in the New Year, as it’s known for bringing good luck due to it’s golden colour – Here’s hoping it brings you some good luck too!
- 40 g fresh yeast
- 400 ml warm water
- pinch granulated sugar
- 250 g strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 250 g fine polenta
- Tinned corn drained and baked in the corn for 2 minutes
- sea salt
- 2-3 tsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
1. Mix the yeast and water together in a jug, then add the sugar and about 2 tablespoons of the strong white flour.
2. Put the yeast mixture somewhere warm to activate for about 30 minutes, or until the yeast mixture is fizzing gently and has formed something of a head, like on a glass of ginger beer.
3. Tip both flours onto a clean worktop and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and knead it energetically into the flour and sweetcorn, adding a little more water if required. Add the salt and oil and knead hard for about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the soft, elastic, slightly shiny dough to a large floured bowl. Oil a piece of cling film and place it oil-side down over the dough. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 7.
6. Pull the dough apart into 2 sections with well-oiled hands and shape into rough rounds or whatever shape you like – long and narrow, braided, rounded, oval etc. Then stroke all the surfaces gently with a handful of olive oil and water, mixed together.
7. Lay them on to a well-oiled baking sheet scattered with coarse semolina or polenta to cause an air pocket to form under the dough, to the desired thickness and bake at 220°C /gas mark 6, for about 15 minutes or dependant entirely on the size of the loaf, more or less time. Tap the bottom of the bread and listen for a hollow ring to let you know it is cooked through.
8. Cool on a wire rack to allow the steam to escape before serving.