I’ve made corn bread about nine times this year and every time I do I think to myself “I must blog this recipe” as it’s one of my favourites. But the kitchen needs cleaning and the children need entertaining and there’s a wash to put on and a week goes by and I forget all about it. So this time, beating together corn and eggs and milk and forensically slicing an onion, I was absolutely determined to finally share this with you, my lovely readers. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted any recipes – I don’t know where my time is going at the moment, I’ve been up til 3am some mornings working and up at 7am sneaking forty minutes of admin in before the children wake up and there still don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to sit at my table and write any more. And it makes me sad, because my little chats with my readers make me feel happy, and useful, and part of a great community of friends – I’ll make a concerted effort to remember to blog more, I promise. And I’m starting with this one. I hope you love it as much as I do, it’s sweet enough to tempt the kids with (leave the chilli out if you’re making it for little mouths) but savoury enough to top with cheese and pop under the grill.
As ever, prices are based at Sainsburys, using the Basics range where available. I grow my own parsley and coriander but have priced them for this recipe as I don’t have enough to send you all, unfortunately 🙂 Free range eggs (85p/6) are slightly more expensive than barn eggs (70p/6) – personally I would rather have no eggs than barn eggs but I’m not here to preach to anyone who has to make difficult decisions around their household budget, just letting you know why I do the things I do. With the same hat on, I only buy Fairtrade sugar – again there are other options available but with a readership that spans millions I feel I have a responsibility to be honest about the decisions I make, and informative about how affordable (and simple) more ethical choices can be. We could improve the lives of farmers and coffee growers and sugar-harvesters and banana-pickers and chickens immeasurably for 15p here or 15p there – I know ‘affordability’ is a sliding scale dependent on circumstances but the margin between free range and Fairtrade products, and their uncomfortable alternatives, is getting smaller all the time. Now, let’s make corn bread.
Makes 8 generous muffins at 10p each or a loaf for 80p
250g plain flour, 9p (55p/1.5kg)
½ tsp salt, <1p (25p/750g)
10g/2 tsp baking powder, 5p (85p/160g)
50g Fairtrade sugar, 4p (80p/1kg)
¼ tsp chilli flakes or two pinches of cayenne pepper, 2p (£1/32g)
70g tinned sweetcorn, 11p (30p/198g, Sainsburys Basics)
50g onion, 3p (90p/1.5kg)
2g fresh parsley or coriander, 6p (80p/28g)
1 free range egg, 14p (85p/6 mixed weight)
50g butter, 18p (90p/250g) – if you’re totally brassic, use 50ml sunflower oil instead at 5p (£3/3l)
250ml milk – can be made with 25g skimmed milk powder to 250ml cold water, 7p (£1.15/400g)
First grab a large mixing bowl and your baking receptacle of choice, be it a deep muffin tin or a loaf tin or a shallow cake tin – any of these will do but baking times will vary. Lightly grease your tin to stop your delicious soon-to-be-cornbread from sticking to it, and pop the oven on to 200C to preheat. Weigh your butter, dice it, and pop it on top of the oven in a bowl to gently soften.
Add the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar to the mixing bowl with a pinch of cayenne or chilli flakes and give it a stir. Drain your sweetcorn and mash roughly with a fork and fold through – you can roughly blitz it in a blender for a smoother consistency if you like, depends on your feelings towards ‘texture’ in your loaves (and if you have fussy children or teenagers or even grown-ups in your house who will eye easily-identifiable vegetables in bread with suspicion and realise it’s not the ‘cake’ you might have told them it was…)
Very finely chop your onion and parsley-or-coriander; if you’re blitzing the corn in a blender or food processor then feel free to fling that in too for an easy life, and add to the mix.
Make a well in the centre of the mixing bowl and crack in your egg, and pour in most of the milk. Remove your butter from the top of the oven and beat the wet ingredients in to combine to form a soft and slightly sticky dough – it should be looser than a normal bread dough but a lot thicker than a batter – if it struggles to fall off your spoon, you’re doing it right. If it’s too runny, add an extra tablespoon on flour. If it’s too stiff, add a splash more milk or a little water to loosen it.
Pour the batter into your tin and sprinkle the top with flour. If making a loaf, score a split down the centre – in Soda Bread Theory, this is to let the fairies out, and I like the thought of fairies baking my bread, so I always do this. If making muffins, make a small X in the top of each one. Place in the centre of the oven – a loaf will need 40 minutes to cook, the muffins around 18, but check after 15 minutes and insert a sharp knife into the centre to check that they are cooked through.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. The bread will need a further 10 minutes cooling to firm up before slicing, whereas the muffins are ready to eat almost immediately, if you have an asbestos tongue, that is… I like to dip mine warm into butter, or halve and fill with cheese while still warm and let it melt and stick together in the middle…
They will keep for 3 days in an airtight container. I slice the corn bread loaf and freeze it in slices, ready to be toasted or defrosted at will, and the muffins freeze well too.
Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe