Herbed Cornbread (gluten free)
One cold, fall evening a white bean and kale soup was simmering on the stove, and I began to crave a good bread to go along with it. I decided to bake my first gluten-free loaf, using my favorite cornbread recipe as a template. Twenty minutes later, the aroma of homemade bread baking in the oven filled the kitchen, and in 10 minutes more we cut into the warm creation. It was so tender and satisfying; I have been making it ever since.
This whole grain, ever-so-slightly sweet loaf has become an essential item at my table. We enjoy it for breakfast with eggs, or with almond butter, peanut butter, or pure butter. It rounds out dinners featuring soups, stews, chili, and salads. It also makes a great snack, with or without almond butter or peanut butter, accompanied by crisp apple wedges.
The bread is ridiculously easy to make. Gluten-free baking usually demands lots of unfamiliar ingredients. But this bread relies on cornmeal for its foundation, so it isn’t much different from a standard preparation. I supplement the cornmeal with a little gluten-free flour mix, so I don’t need to stock my pantry with boxes and bags of items like sorghum flour, white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch…
I use whole grain cornmeal for great taste. Cornmeal is naturally free of gluten, but it is safest to use a product marked gluten-free to guard against it having been contaminated during processing. I am a big fan of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free products. I visited Bob’s a few years ago, and they have rooms and equipment dedicated to gluten-free products. I also use Bob’s cornmeal for a 5-minute microwave polenta I use as a staple in my gluten-free kitchen. I will be offering that recipe in the near future.
Why am I posting this recipe right before Thanksgiving? It is a great gluten-free item for the holiday meal, and my stuffing will feature this bread. Look for that recipe in a few days.
I bake this easy-to-make bread frequently. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, spoon 1½ tablespoons vinegar into a glass measuring cup. Pour in enough milk or soy milk to measure 1½ cups. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes.
Makes 24 2-inch square pieces
1½ cups whole grain gluten-free cornmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill)
1½ cups gluten-free flour mix (I like Cup4Cup)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2½ teaspoons dried marjoram
1½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum if using any flour mix other than Cup4Cup (do not use with C4C)
Freshly ground pepper
1½ cups buttermilk or milk substitute (see headnote tip)
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter, plus more for pan
1 egg yolk
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat a 13x9-inch glass baking dish in the oven for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour mix, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, marjoram, salt, xanthan gum (if using), and a generous amount of pepper. Whisk to blend. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon oil or butter, egg, and egg yolk and whisk to blend.
Using a potholder, remove the baking pan from the oven. Brush the pan generously with olive oil or butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until combined. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading to cover evenly.
Using a potholder, return the pan to the oven. Bake the bread until it is brown and feels springy when pressed in the center, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature