This festive season, treat your family and friends to an authentic Italian feast, without dining out, with our easy and exquisite recipes! In our Cook an Italian Feast Series, here’s another recipe, a quick and easy cornbread using Polenta Valsugana that goes extremely well with your soup or salad, or can be a meal on its own!
The recipe of cornbread incorporates the ‘Instant polenta’ from Polenta Valsugana. It is the largest selling brand of polenta in Italy. Polenta Valsugana is prepared from carefully chosen maize and holds no preservatives or colourings. The maize is milled, then partially steam-cooked to make cornmeal that will help you in bringing flavour and authenticity of traditional polenta to your table in just a few minutes.
Coming back to the recipe; this is one more of those simple, quick, yeast-free bread that can easily be put together in a matter of a few minutes. It’s not a bread at all, rather a type of savoury cake, and you’ll absolutely love it.
The plain version is wonderful with bacon for breakfast, or as an accompaniment to hearty, beany stews or soups. Nevertheless, if you add a few even tastier ingredients, it can be considered as a meal in itself and you don’t need anything else with it except maybe some scrambled eggs or salad.
Total time required: 30 mins | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 20 mins
125 g cornmeal or fine polenta (or use half fine and half coarse polenta for a crunchier texture)
125 g plain white flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 medium eggs
1 tbsp runny honey or soft brown sugar
150 g buttermilk (or plain whole-milk yoghurt)
150 ml whole milk
25 g unsalted butter, melted
Oil a baking tin, about 4cm deep.
Take a large bowl, blend together the cornmeal, ﬂour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Form a pit in the middle.
Beat the eggs together with honey or sugar, buttermilk or yoghurt, milk and melted butter. Transfer into the pit in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined. Don’t overmix; a few lumps in the batter are manageable. You need to get it into the oven as fast as possible when the bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk starts to react.
Preheat the oven at 220°C/Gas Mark 7, now pour the batter into the baking tin and place it in the oven. Let it bake for around 20 minutes until the cornbread looks golden and has contracted somewhat from the sides of the tin. Put the tin on a wire rack to cool for a few minutes prior to cutting the bread into squares. Serve warm.
Cornbread is open for customisation. You can add fried bacon bits, fried diced chorizo, chopped olives, mushrooms (fried with a little garlic and well-seasoned), and chopped herbs, such as coriander and chives. Or make a cheddar, chilli, sweetcorn and spring onion cornbread.
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