This is my take on that southern American standard, but GF and in muffin form (although you could use other tins, too). It’s unbelievably light, and not too sweet. Kudos to my 1980s-vintage Good Housekeeping Cookbook for the inspiration.
Delicious savoury options are in the footnote.
Makes: 12 muffins (or traybake / tarte portions)
- 150g polenta (fine cornmeal)
- 145g gluten-free flour
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 100g sugar (soft light brown or golden caster ideally)
- 2 & 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 150g cold unsalted butter, cubed (plus extra for greasing if not making encased muffins)
- 1 large egg, beaten (62-68g when weighed in its shell)
- 250ml milk, at room temperature
- A 12-hole muffin tin, and 12 muffin cases
(alternatively, a standard traybake tin, or a 12-hole mini tarte tin)
- 1 large mixing bowl
- A measuring jug
- Cooling rack
- Preheat oven to 210 C (190 C fan-assisted). Place paper cases in muffin tin (or, lightly grease a traybake tin, or 12 mini tarte tins).
- Rub the polenta, flour, cornflour, sugar, and baking powder with the butter in a large bowl, until you have a consistency like fine bread crumbs.
- Add the beaten egg and mix well with a fork until fully combined.
- Add the milk about 1/4 at a time, mixing really well after each addition. You want a creamy batter but still quite thick – and it will look lumpy. (Remember, this is gluten-free, so you don’t have to worry about over-mixing; in fact, incorporate as much air as you can.) You may not use all the milk.
- Spoon the batter into muffin cases no more than 2/3 full – they will rise quite a bit (alternatively, spread the batter into your prepared traybake or tarte tin).
- Bake for around 20 minutes, turning halfway through for even baking, until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of a couple of muffins comes out clean. Remove the tray from the oven, remove the muffins from the tin, and cool on a cooling rack.
– If making a traybake, test with the skewer in the centre; then leave in the tin to cool on a cooling rack.
– If using a tarte tin, they should be baked after 15 minutes or so. Turn out from the tins as soon as they’re safe to handle.
- This cornbread freezes extremely well – if it’s not scoffed immediately.
Add 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds (or some chopped fresh fennel fronds, if you have them), and/or 1 tsp dried chilli flakes. If making a savoury version, reduce the sugar to 50g, and sprinkle some more dried chilli flakes over the top of each muffin/tarte or the traybake.
Made this way, the cornbread is really enhanced by sprinkling grated mature cheddar cheese over the top halfway through baking. I used this option with my Mexican Beef Skewers and they were extremely good that way.