This is just a short note to commemorate the official end of my cornbread project. My review of "The Cornbread Gospels" by Crescent Dragonwagon appears in today's issue of the San Antonio Current. Click the link below to read the full text:
More than cornmeal-to-flour ratios and levels of sweetness and the presence or absence of whole kernal corn, this book taught me what a joy it can be to dissect a cuisine (or just one simple food) down to its roots and work your way back up again.
I now know that I love cornbread of all kinds, and it's all "authentic" - just depends on who you ask!
The following recipe is one of my favorites from the book: a Greek dessert cornbread, bobota is a cousin of baklava. Soaked in orange-flavored honey while still warm from the oven, it's a perfect pair with strong coffee, Sauternes or, of course, Ouzo. Enjoy!
Makes 10 to 12 squares
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange, preferably organic
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (seeds and large pieces of pulp removed, but not strained)
1 cup currants or raisins
1 recipe Orange-Honey Syrup (below)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 7 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt onto a piece of wax paper. Set aside.
3. In a high-sided non-plastic bowl using scrupulously clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
4. Using the same beaters that you used on the egg whites, in a medium-sized bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Add the orange zest.
5. Add the flour-cornmeal mixture and the orange juice to the creamed butter mixture, stirring until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites and currants or raisins.
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and put it in the oven. Bake until golden brown, firm and slightly domed in the middle, 35 to 40 minutes. As the cake bakes, prepare the Orange-Honey Syrup.
7. When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and prick the top all over with a toothpick. Pour the slightly cooled syrup evenly over the cake, dousing it. Let stand 1 to 2 hours before serving.
sufficient for one Bobota
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
Juice from 1 orange plus water to equal 1 cup
Finely grated zest of one orange, preferably organic
6 whole cloves
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn heat down to a simmer, and let cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is a thin syrup, about 4 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature. Remove the cloves before pouring the syrup over the Bobota.
(Photo, clockwise from top left: Dairy Hollow House Skillet-Sizzled Cornbread, cornbread and beans, Greek Bobota, Portuguese Broa and Caldo Verde stew. All recipes from The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon. Photo by Lara Bierner)