Cornbread and the color line

A friend asked for my recipe for cornbread, and a blog craves content, and so I thought I would post it here. But the recipe requires a bit of explanation. You see, over the years my standard cornbread, which I bake every week or two, has evolved from a lightly sweetened cakey thing with half white flour to an all-corn, unsweetened cornbread. That means that I’ve had to change the cornmeal I use, from a medium-ground all-purpose yellow meal to a fine ground white meal. I’m not sure whether white is better than yellow, but fine-ground definitely is. I consider it an absolute necessity for all-cornmeal cornbread, in fact; coarse-ground meal never fully cooks, and without some flour to smooth it out, the bread is crumbly and gritty.

But that simple, pragmatic choice of ingredient appears to be fraught with Deeper Meaning. White cornmeal isn’t just cornmeal that happens to be white. Continue reading “Cornbread and the color line”

Pretty good banana bread

Cook’s Illustrated finally went off the deep end this month. I’ve seen this moment coming for years, as they gradually ran through the classic American repertoire and resorted to publishing home versions of questionable restaurant fare and revisiting recipes that were already perfect. I’m a charter subscriber; I’ve been getting this magazine in the mail every other month since 1993, and every time I think about dropping it they run something that is so good that it pays for the year’s subscription. I refer to my back issues more than to any cookbook on my shelf. So I don’t say this lightly. But my old reliable has gone off the deep end. What’s finally done it? What’s inspired one of my rare full-on Internet rants and a corrective recipe?

Extreme banana bread. Continue reading “Pretty good banana bread”