Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hopi Blue Corn Bread

The cool weather of late in the Bay Area has me wanting comfort food so I baked a skillet of corn bread using Hopi-Blue corn meal from Tierra Vegetables, a Sonoma County grower of vegetables and sheep. They make a very small amount of milled corn meal, and an even smaller amount from blue corn. They offer their produce at the San Francisco Farmer's Market and also out of their roadside stand in Santa Rosa. If you can get the blue corn meal it creates a colorful bread that makes a simple peasant dish gourmet.

The recipe below can be used with any corn meal. I like the texture when the meal is fine ground for eating pieces of the bread alongside dishes like boiled beans. If I plan to use the corn bread in a stuffing, I use a polenta grind. Either way, this is a basic and versatile recipe. For this session I grilled some white corn and stripped the ears into the batter and also sprinkled some kernels on top. This adds a nice variety in the bread.

Corn Bread
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400° F. and pre-heat a 10" well-seasoned cast iron skillet. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, butter 1 9-by-5-by-3 inch loaf pan.
Into a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk in cornmeal and sugar until combined well. In a bowl whisk together milk and eggs until just combined. Add butter to flour mixture and work it in with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. Beat in egg mixture until just combined.

If desired, grill two ears of corn until kernels are carmelized and softened. Strip kernels from ears and divide 2/3 of corn into the batter and 1/3 for sprinkling on top before placing the skillet or pan into the oven.
Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes for skillet or 50 minutes for pan. Cool corn bread in pan on a rack 10 minutes and turn out onto rack to cool completely. Corn bread may be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in a cool, dry place 2 days or frozen 2 weeks.

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