There’s very little that is more heart-warming and more capable of giving you a fuzzy feeling inside than the cozy aroma of freshly baked goodies wafting through the house. Things like banana bread, zucchini bread, chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies are what I like to think of as comfort food. But I grew up in a household where baking was pretty much non-existent. I have one vague recollection of baking cookies from frozen dough with my cousins. I think I might have been 5 or 6 years old. It’s only after I went to college that I started baking and I really wanted to bake banana bread, because I absolutely love it. If I ever wanted banana bread, I was usually disappointed because eggless banana bread is pretty much nonexistent, as is banana bread without walnuts (I’m allergic). So I searched and searched, and finally managed to put together this recipe, which appears to be working for me.
Today’s back-to-my-roots meal at the understocked household was lovely! Inspired by Tex-Mex creations, the combination of a light black bean and corn chili with a heavy, moist firecracker cornbread was fabulous!
I’ll share one recipe today and save the other for another day – I don’t want to overwhelm my fair readers!
Cornbread is quite a staple where I’m from, but isn’t something I grew up with. There are as many variations on cornbread as there are people down South, but I really enjoyed this take, a spicy bread with an almost cake-like texture, flecked with tender corn kernels and the orange and green of carrots and chili peppers.
I started off by infusing some butter with the red pepper flakes right in the dish I was eventually going to bake in, which gave me a nice, evenly browned spicy crust. The yogurt and milk made it rich and moist without having to use eggs or any oil or butter in the actual bread. Die-hard Southerners may not like the sweet nature of the bread, but you can omit the sugar and the bread will be just as good, in my opinion.
Egg-free Cornbread with a Kick
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat or white wheat flour
1/2 cup self-rising all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white, cane, or brown sugar (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter
1 cup yogurt (I used homemade whole milk yogurt, I’m sure you can substitute)
1/4 cup milk
1/2 can of kernel sweet corn
1 cup shredded carrots
1 chili pepper or jalapeno pepper
2 tbsp chopped pimiento olives
1 tsp crushed red peppers
sprinkling of feta cheese
sprinkling of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses
1. Combine the dry ingredients – the cornmeal, two flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and add the butter and chili flakes to the dish you plan on baking in. Place this in the oven to infuse while you are preparing the batter.
3. In a separate dish, combine the yogurt, carrots and corn.
4. Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, mixing well.
5. Add milk until it reaches a pourable consistency.
6. Chop up the olives, pimientos and pepper, and stir them, along with a bit of the Colby cheese, into the batter.
7. Pour the batter into your pan – after taking it out of the oven carefully, of course! – and spread the batter if you need to.
8. Sprinkle the top with the feta and the other cheeses.
9. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
This cornbread has a wonderful aroma and an awesome kick. It is also a great canvas for different flavor combinations.
If you want to go traditional with serving the bread, you can slather it with honey-butter. My opinion is that it might become a little too rich if you do that, but it’s an option. Other mix-ins may include sun dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers. The initial butter infusion is also a wonderful opportunity to pull in a variety of flavors, including basil, oregano, or sage. The adventurous palate may enjoy a hint of garlic, or a stir-in of dried cranberries.
What would you put in this cornbread to mix it up?