Before the South was ‘The South’ and the settlers were navigating pine tree forests, swamps, and battling all mess of creatures from alligators to mosquitos to racoons, the women were in charge, like they are from now until eternity, for feeding the families. Imagine the original European settlers, or mind you, the new women of the south’s frustration when they discovered they had to adapt their recipes to exclude the white European flour they had always used to bake bread. With the absence of flour in the South and an abundance of corn, these strong women created a new kind of bread – corn bread. So here I am, hundreds of years later, a southerner, a pioneer, on the other side of the ocean trying to bake corn bread.
Like any authentic Texan, I grew up eating cornbread as a side to many meals – my Dad and us kids loved to smother it in butter and honey (which my mom rolled her eyes at) but I still eat it that way. To my heart’s dismay, and my mind’s confusion – I had such a hard time finding cornmeal when I moved to the Netherlands. I’d bought Maizena (corn starch) and Maismehl (corn flour), and Paneermeel (breadcrumbs) in my search – all resulting in frustrating disappointment and lonely pork chops. I finally discovered the secret – Polenta – which is probably more akin to grits than cornmeal, but I find the texture even more inviting and it works!
1 cup (125 g) flour
1 cup (150 g) cornmeal/polenta
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup (240 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) cooking oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius)
Grease the bottom and sides of a 8 or 9-inch square baking pan (20 or 23-cm square baking pan). Or pull Grandma’s iron skillet out of the cupboard.
In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and set aside.
In another bowl combine eggs, milk, and cooking oil. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.