Monday, July 27, 2009

BBA Challenge #10: Corn Bread

Corn Bread!

Sweet, sweet corn bread.

This. This is one of my favorite things of all time. Corn Bread. Whenever I make corn bread I have a tried and true recipe from the New Joy of Cooking. Now, I'm not going to go and say it is the best cookbook ever, but it is one of my go-to cookbooks, and one of the few I brought over with me. The reason? It simply has everything in it. Plus I love the lentil soup recipe in it. I love the hummus recipe in it. Plus, I use it as a reference every Thanksgiving in order to make a turkey I will never taste.

I've been vegetarian for a bunch of years now, but I'm not averse to cooking meat, nor am I averse to roasting a bird for friends. But when I do it, I worry that, because I won't taste it, it will not be yummy enough. I also worry that it will have too much salt, or not enough. I also tend to wash my hands a lot. To the elbow, just in case. For me, cooking meat is like making something out of papier mache. I don't mind doing it, and it looks pretty in the end.

However, corn bread is something I make every Thanksgiving plus on special occasions, so I was going to have some no matter what.

Which means leave out the bacon.

Which means tell no one the recipe called for bacon.

Then hope it still makes corn bread as awesome as the New Joy of Cooking recipe.

Did it?

Ladies and Germs, we begin our humble journey with a corn meal soaker (not pictured) with milk instead of Buttermilch. The buttermilk in the fridge did not look so good, so I had to toss it out. I know this may be shocking to many of you, but the buttermilk here is sold in 250g (yes, grams) containers that usually hold yoghurt (also not pictured).

The day of the baking started with what I will call all-purpose flour. Type 550, which is pretty white, but not as bad for you as Type 405, which is pretty much 100% starch from the center of the wheat.

Here's the flour before I added any of the dry ingredients. Unfortunately, I was measuring out a tablespoon and a half of baking soda before I realized it was baking SODA and not baking POWDER! Quickly, but carefully, I scooped up that section of flour and re-measured.

Oh, yeah, I use Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, bought for nearly five times its normal price. I actually have a fear of German Natron, but only because no recipes use baking soda over here, and because I have never tried it.

Here's the actual Backpulver. Literally. It means "baking powder". You can buy these packets at every supermarket. Unfortunately no gram measurement is listed for the package, but each packet is enough for 500grams of flour. Uh, yeah. For what kind of recipe? All of them?

The recipe called for both brown and white sugars. Brown Sugar, the kind made with molasses, is virtually unknown in Germany. They have brauner Zucker, which is basically raw sugar. I usually to go to an Asia Laden (asian market) to get this type of sugar. Oddly enough, the sugar is actually made in England.

Butter is another thing that is strange in this country. This is ein stück Butter, a piece of butter, literally. This is roughly a half-pound, or two sticks of butter. All butter is sold this way. Oddly enough, there are many brands of butter, but Markenbutter is the standard butter, hovering around 0,79 € per stück.

Because I wanted this corn bread to be special, I brought out the big guns. This is Tannenhonig, fir tree honey.

Here's the soaker from the night before. I got a late start.

What I find utterly hilarious is this: I take pictures of all the ingredients, yet fail to even take one single mise en place picture. So what you get is the picture of everything already mixed together.

I have to interrupt myself here and say that I do not like corn. Okay, I will eat the occasional corn tortilla, but I will not even have corn flakes in the house. Maybe it's part of my upbringing, or maybe it's something else.

If there's corn in something. Say, like in corn bread. I will eat it, but adding these kernels to the mix made me an unhappy camper. I know, I know, I could have left them out, but I was already skipping the bacon, so I thought I might as well throw them in.

Through some weird foresight or something, I only bought a small can of corn, so I only had half of the necessary corn. Oh, well, I thought.

Now, before you all start in on how I should have used a 10-inch cast iron pan, let me interject. I left my awesome Lodge cast iron pans behind when I came over, and cast-iron pans here are either made in France or Sweden and cost a small fortune, so I had to improvise and use this Dr. Oetker springform pan. Oh, by the way, all cake pans here are springform pans. Okay, not the silicone ones, but they are super cheap.

The corn bread took forever. Almost 45 minutes until it barely passed the toothpick test. And because the bread was promised at a pot luck for which I was going to be late, I was really sweating it. But, in the end, I made it.

Sunlight really does do wonders for food photography, as evidenced by this photo.

At the pot luck, people thought that it was a cake, and wanted me to put it with the other cakes. I kept re-iterating, no this is corn bread. Corn bread.

I sliced it up into wedges and took the first one.


There was even an American kid running around screaming "Corn Bread! Corn Bread!" as though he had not had it in years.

I didn't even mind the corn bits, but I think maybe next time I'll omit them completely. The texture was crumbly but moist in a way I had never known. Of course it was on the sweet side, but I love sweet corn bread as much as I love savory.

I know everyone has bacon on theirs, but it was amazing even without. Maybe, just maybe, I'll make the bacon variation for my friends on Thanksgiving. But I'll have to make a little one without, as well.

Just for me.


  1. I like real corn in mine but chop it up in the food processor just a bit.

    Great job! Now I've got to get myself motivated to do cranberry walnut bread... w/o the walnuts.

  2. Your cornbread looks fantastic. I made it without bacon too. Everyone thought it was delicious.

  3. I completely left the corn out of mine. I don't do chunks in my

    I'm finding it interesting watching you do this challenge in another country where you're having to adjust ingredients to what is local for you.

  4. I also made mine without bacon but added diced jalapeno peppers in addition to the corn. It helps temper the sweetness a bit. I find foreign supermarkets fascinating and whenevver I travel to different countries, I always check out the supermarkets. It's so interesting to see the different ingredients and packaging. So thanks for my tour of Berlin ingredients.

  5. I love the brown colour on your corn bread! brilliance :) And I agree with Cindy. It was so enlightening to see all your ingredients!

  6. Hi!
    I think the products in France & Germany might be more similar than the ones in the US, so just a comment about the Backpulver. It means baking powder, but it really doesn't have the same result (I tried /failed a lot of US recipe with french levure). I think that Backpulver (levure in French) is already a mix of baking powder + baking soda... Maybe there are some articles on the web about those differences.
    You probably already know that, but I found this chart interesting.

  7. Ach Ja, und 1 "stück" butter = 2.5 "sticks".
    And for the flour, the best approximation I had was 1 cup = 130g

  8. Very nice to see how you tackle all these breads in Germany....

    really enjoying your website!