You don’t see cornbread recipes often in the UK. This is a traditional American accompaniment, made from ground maize or cornmeal (if you are making this in England look for fine polenta in the supermarket), and uses baking powder rather than yeast for leavening. It has a fine scent and flavour, a deliciously crisp shell and a soft, fragrant crumb.
At a Gospel Sunday service and brunch at the House of Blues (churchgoing comes with fried chicken as standard in Las Vegas) earlier this year, I found some fantastic little cornbread muffins, far tastier than other cornbread I’d tried. I asked the staff how they were made, and was told that the secret to the texture was the addition of canned, creamed sweetcorn to the batter. The cornbread was also studded with fresh jalapeño peppers. I’ve recreated them here, and I’m proud to report that they’re pretty much exactly right.
To make twelve individual cornbread muffins, you’ll need:
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups white cornmeal (polenta)
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
1 cup milk
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 can creamed corn
4 green chillies (jalapeños if available), chopped finely
Turn the oven up to 220° C (425° F) and preheat the muffin pans with the butter dotted in the base of each. While the pans are heating, mix the cornmeal, sugar, milk, buttermilk, egg, baking powder and bicarb thoroughly in a large bowl.
Stir the creamed corn and chillis through the mixture. Pour an equal amount into each muffin tin, and bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. A skewer inserted into the middle of one of the muffins should come out clean.
The muffins are delicious split and spread with some butter and a little honey (even better if you whisk the butter and honey together before spreading, for some reason). You can also use them to accompany savoury dishes. The muffins will keep well, maintaining their crisp surface, in an airtight box for a few days.