I like a many-textured cornbread: crunchy on the outside, tender inside, with plenty of chewy corn niblets for added flavor. To get there, I’ve tried mixing fresh corn, frozen corn and canned corn into the batter. But better by far? Cornbread made with dried sweet corn!
This native American staple made it’s way into pre-Civil war kitchens, adding fresh summer sweetness to the winter table. Parboiled on the cob, the kernels were then removed, dried for days in the sun, packed in clean sacks and stored, just needing a soak to reconstitute. Traditionally steeped in lukewarm water overnight, the reconstituted corn was served as a side dish, or—in old Pennsylvania Dutch fashion, even combined with noodles or chestnuts.
To my tastebuds, dried sweet corn’s pleasant, toasty flavor works best baked in cornbread. Instead of soaking the corn for a long time, I douse it with boiling water— just long enough to soften it a bit, not long enough to cause the corn to lose it’s shape or pleasant, chewy texture. If you can’t find or obtain the dried sweet corn, this recipe can also be made with frozen/thawed sweet corn. Just be sure to drain it well after thawing. This cornbread goes REALLY well with our Hoppin’ John!
- 1 Tbsp bacon fat, butter, or vegetable shortening
- 1 cup coarse stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour OR (if you don't have that) cake flour will do
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup sourcream whisked with 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 cup dried sweet corn OR 1 cup frozen sweet corn thawed and drained well
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup OR sorghum syrup
- Preheat oven to 375. Coat muffin tin indentations with fat OR use a 9-inch cake pan, coated with the fat.
- In large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in butter. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk (or sourcream whisked with milk) and syrup. Set aside
- In separate bowl, add 1 cup boiling water to 1 cup dried sweet corn. Stir for one scant minute; drain and discard hot water.
- Combine buttermilk/egg/syrup mixture with cornmeal mixture just until incorporated. Stir in the softened dried corn. Fill each muffin tin indentation quite full of batter OR fill the cake pan with the batter. Bake 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
- Remove muffin tin OR cake pan to cooking rack; cool slightly. Remove muffins OR corncake and serve hot with butter.