January 20, 2013

Cornbread from home ground cornmeal

We have enjoyed delicious chili cooked by Becky a few times in the last month, for which I have prepared cornbread. I've made a number of recipes, and its clear that people's tastes vary widely for this food. I like my cornbread to be hearty, but not overly dense, a little sweet but not that sweet, and with a strong corn flavor.

I've had good results using a 2/3 corn 1/3 whole wheat flour ratio for the grains, with 1/2 the corn being regular cornmeal and 1/2 being coarse ground polenta from Wild Hive Farm. But I had read online (I think it was on thefreshloaf.com) that freshly ground corn is much more flavorful, and I wanted to experience this.

The kids and I dredged up my C.S. Bell Company #2 grist mill and freshened it up, as detailed in this post, then ground ourselves some corn. The corn itself was purchased in a 2.2kg sack from Wild Hive.

The kids put it through on a coarse setting twice, with one girl feeding the hopper and the other working the crank. Buster tried dumping corn in the hopper too, but most of it ended up elsewhere.

This is what we had after two coarse passes.

I cranked the selector screw down as far as it could go and ran it through two more times with me manning the crank and Violet feeding the grist. We ended up with a nice (for cornbread) distribution of particle sizes. I was surprised to find that the cornmeal took up more volume than the whole kernel corn used to produce it.

We used this output in my current cornbread recipe:

  • 2c polydisperse cornmeal (or 1c coarse, 1c fine)
  • 1c white wheat whole grain flour
  • 1/4c chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/3c sugar
  • 2TBS baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2c milk
  • 1/2c butter (room temp)

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
Whisk eggs and half of milk in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients in mixer bowl, add room temp butter and half of milk. Use paddle to mix on low until reasonably blended, then beat on medium for 90 seconds or until it mixtures appears lighter and coats the sides of the bowl.

Add egg mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides and mixing on high for 30 seconds for each addition.

Pour into parchment bottom lined, greased, 200mm square pan. Batter will be liquidy! Bake until cake tester comes out dry from center, about 30-40 minutes. Crust will be quite brown. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Like all quickbreads, cornbread is way better when it is just made. Our family of five ate 3/4 of this recipe with butter for dinner, then experienced a serious food coma.

I made one recipe of this cornbread with buttermilk in place of milk and honey in place of sugar. It was too crumbly though; not sure if it was from the extra tenderness imparted by the buttermilk or from the extra liquid in the honey. But I'm now back to milk and sugar instead.

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