Wednesday, 6 February 2013


In the United States, a Civil War still rages over cornbread. You’re either from the north, and like it sweet, light and cake-like in appearance, or from the south, where you prefer yours savoury, crumbly and (more often than not) served up in a cast-iron skillet.  As an Australian, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I simply made the first recipe I came across, loved it, and haven’t bothered to look for another. This particular cornbread is, in many ways, a fusion of the two styles – the cornmeal grit and minimal sugar favoured by the south, but leavened with flour and baked in a loaf tin to look more like the cake common to the north. 

All I know is that at four in the afternoon, when I'm feeling peckish and standing in the kitchen, paralysed with indecision, trying to decide whether I feel like something sweet or something savoury, this cornbread neatly fulfills both cravings - its subtle sweetness undercut with a chilli kick. It may not please the purists, but it certainly pleases me - whether served up alongside a meaty stew, freshly cut with a dollop of chutney, or simply toasted with butter.

Adapted - barely - from Smitten Kitchen

This is a great way to use up any left-over sour cream you have languishing in the fridge.  And don’t forget you can make your own buttermilk by mixing a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice with one cup of milk and letting it sit til the mixture curdles (about five minutes).   

1 cup (125g) flour
1 cup (145g) yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon chilli (red pepper) flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Generously butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or coat it with a nonstick spray. 

Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, chilli flakes and salt together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, buttermilk and olive oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing until just barely combined. Spread the batter in your prepared tin and bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. 

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