Dear food blogging world,
I love you and I wish I could live in your warm, sweet-smelling world of cookies and spices, talented cooks and writers, brilliant photographers and intriguing recipes.
I’m feeling really, really connected all of a sudden. Maybe it’s the Burwell Recipe Swap. Maybe I’m still riding the Foodbuzz Festival high. In any case, I love life in this food blog world. Life in the real world is pretty good too. Lee and I will be the proud owners of our first house-home (as opposed to boat-home) in a few days and should be moving in by this time next week. Both of my museum internships are going swimmingly. They keep me intellectually fired-up and assure that my fingernails are always blue with clay. I have a whole slough of new friends and I’m starting to really, really appreciate this fabulous city.
This haze of happy feelings propelled me away from the computer to bake yesterday. I dug out Helen’s Texas cornbread recipe along with some special ingredients. I wanted to infuse this delicious but plain cornbread with a couple of flavors I’ve been loving lately: coconut and molasses.
The all-cornmeal bread became cornmeal+millet flour, which has a similar texture to cornmeal (and hey, that means it’s gluten free). Buttermilk became coconut milk+vinegar. Shredded coconut went perfectly with the gritty cornmeal texture and it only took a tablespoon of molasses to turn half the batter into a deep, dark molasses swirl. I am firmly in the “cornbread shouldn’t necessarily be sweet” camp but that doesn’t rule out ingredients more commonly found in sweets.
My only mistake was to follow Helen’s recipe in terms of salt. I know she loved her salt and tended to be a bit too liberal with it for mine and my mom’s taste. I thought I’d give her some credit when it came to cornbread, though, and added a full teaspoon of salt. Hah! The bread it still good but it would be a completely different kind of good with less than half that amount of salt. I think I’d like it better that way.
I think this cornbread would be beautiful on a holiday table or for breakfast with a smear of jam, like the homemade apricot I’m currently enjoying. I might even let some of it dry out in a paper bag and make something resembling Helen’s cornbread dressing, a holiday food institution in my family.
Coconut Molasses Swirl Cornbread (gluten and sugar free)
1/2 cup stoneground cornmeal
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (revised down from 1 teaspoon)
1/2 cup low-fat milk (or more coconut milk)
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Oil a small baking dish/pie plate/cake pan, or, ideally, a cast iron skillet.
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, beat together egg, milk and vinegar.
Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring until most lumps are gone.
Pour half of this batter into the baking dish or pan.
Add molasses to the rest of the batter, stirring until it is fully incorporated.
Pour this batter into the pan as well and stir gently to swirl both together.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the center of the cornbread is firm.