My Southern friends will roll their eyes. My Southern ancestors will roll in their graves, but this cornbread is, well, worth breaking the rules. You see in the South, adding even a dash of sugar to your cornbread is considered an offense and presents you, clear as day, as a Yankee. If they have good manners, they’ll never say anything to you about it. In private, though, my Gran even used to sort of laugh at the idea of sweetening your cornbread as if it were some sign of lunacy or ill-breeding.
While there are some traditions that I want to maintain (and my Gran’s cornbread recipe will remain a family secret ; ), here I am teaching New Yorkers to cook and starting new traditions for them to make and to carry on with their families.
One of the young New Yorkers in my Friday class, Truman, has a severe egg allergy. He cannot even be around an egg without starting to itch and swell. When thinking about some of the things that I might make with him and his fellow mini-chefs, the cornbread at Angelica Kitchen came to mind. Angelica’s, as its usuals call it, is a vegan place in the East Village. It happened to be right across the street from my old apartment and served as my local deli for years-miso soup for when I was too sick to cook, soba noodles to slurp on hot summer days, and this inappropriately named “Southern style” cornbread onto which I’d go home and heap butter and honey.
Below is our tinkered with recipe. The Wednesday mini-chefs did their thing this week, and we attempted again to measure and whisk and stir our way to a big cast iron pan full of cornbread. Somehow, somewhere, too much flour was added. I mention this only because, if you are working with a big group of Yummies or with very young ones, you might want to consider measuring at least some of the ingredients out ahead of time. With a little doctoring from me, my lovely assistant Jessica, and Mama Suzy, we got our bread back on track. Served with honey butter or carrot-apple-ginger spread, it is so good. My husband even spotted one mom and her son (though, to protect their identity, we won’t mention names) honking down their cornbread on the street. LOVE IT!
Light and Fluffy Egg-less Cornbread
*2 c. cornmeal (a little coarser grind if possible)
*1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
*1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
*1 T. + 1 t. baking powder
*2 t. salt
*2/3 c. maple syrup (the real stuff)
*2 c. milk, room temperature
*1/2 c. olive oil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Have your mini-chef paint the bottom and sides of your cast iron pan with butter or oil. Set aside.
In a large bowl, measure out all of the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt), and in another smaller bowl, measure out all of the wet ones. You might note how the wet ingredients will slosh if you tap the bowl while the dry ones will make a flour cloud if you tap too hard (and maybe set aside a couple more bowls for your mini-chef to play with this concept).
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir them together till just combined. Now pour the whole mixture into your cast iron pan.
Big Person: Bake your cornbread for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.