I will freely admit that I don’t ferment all of my grains. Though I know the benefits of soaking whole grains and even enjoy sourdough fermentation as a sort of hobby, I sometimes just want a simple cookie or some yummy cornbread like my mother used to make. Sometimes I don’t plan ahead what I am cooking for dinner. Alright, I often don’t plan ahead any more. On those days, it’s just nice to throw some ingredients into a batter and bake it up. Most of all, many of my soaked grain creations end up in the compost. The sour tastes and chewy texture are just too new to my husband, though I’m working on it. When I first created this recipe, he didn’t even want to try it for fear that it would resemble my last cornbread. That bread was dense and dark, having been sweetened with rapadura (unrefined sugar) and baked in a cast iron pan. It saddened me to watch his face fall as he went from the excitement of getting cornbread to the reality that I had completely messed up one of his all-time favorite foods. I realized that when things are just once-in-a-while treats for us, I would rather compromise with some refined starches than have the food go uneaten. This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up soaked whole grains completely. He’s getting used to the slightly sour oatmeal and actually loves the soaked granola and sourdough buckwheat pancakes that I make.
Cornbread should be an easy enough bread to make gluten free. Corn is naturally free of gluten, and the bread is leavened with baking soda or powder rather than yeast. This recipe uses a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar, but you could substitute baking powder in place of those two ingredients. I used organic yellow corn meal and a gluten free baking mix for the flour. You can make your own gluten free baking mix by combining one cup of brown rice flour with one quarter cup of tapioca or arrowroot starch and one half cup of potato starch. Add a teaspoon of guar gum to the mix for best results. The guar gum mimics the sticky quality of gluten that allows baked goods to rise better. I used a store-bought gluten free flour mix that combines whole grains and starches with guar gum and no potentially genetically modified corn starch or other corn ingredients.
It’s important to use organic cornmeal in this recipe. Non-organic corn nearly always contains genetically modified ingredients. Bob’s Red Mill claims on their website to use only seeds that are GMO-free, though they don’t guarantee that they are free from cross-contamination. I keep looking for the NON GMO Project Verified Label on cornmeal products. Until I find it, I’m sticking with organic corn. Corn meal, like all ground whole grains, keeps best in the freezer. For best results, find the freshest that you can get or grind your own. I got mine from our local co-op, which keeps it in the fridge until they put it on the shelf in the bulk department in small baggies.
Easy Cornbread Recipe
Makes two regular sized loaves or four mini loaves.
1 cup organic corn meal
1 cup GF Flour Mix
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 cup Palm Sugar or Cane Sugar
2 Pasture-Raised Eggs, Separated
1/4 cup melted Pasture-Raised Butter, Unsalted (you can make it dairy free with Coconut Oil or Palm Shortening)
1 1/4 cup Organic Buttermilk (or Rice Milk with a Tablespoon of Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar added)
Preheat the oven to 425. Butter two glass or stoneware baking pans or four mini-loaf pans. Mix together the first six ingredients (dry ingredients). Separate the eggs and whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form. Whisk the egg yolks with the buttermilk or soured rice milk. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, just to combine. Fold in the egg whites. It should look like a thick cake batter, but with some lumps. Add water if it is too dry as the moisture may vary depending on the humidity and the particular flour mix that you use. Divide the batter between the pans and tap them on the counter to level the tops. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges are starting to brown and pull away from the sides of the pans.
This bread is great warm out of the oven. You may also cool it on wire racks and store it in an airtight container for several days at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage. Our last batch got eaten in only three days. This time I made an extra loaf to freeze. Now that my family is happily enjoying their “regular” cornbread, I can get back to the teff flour that is fermenting on my kitchen counter. . .