A worthwhile accident turned comfort food…That’s how this cornbread recipe came to be. I was given a beautiful bag of local heirloom cornmeal a few months back and it has been taunting me ever since. For whatever reason, I haven’t been compelled to use it even though it glares at me each and every time I open that cabinet door. Then, on Thanksgiving morning (because I didn’t have enough to cook), I literally woke up determined to add cornbread to our holiday spread and that is how this Maple Hazelnut Cornbread recipe came to be.I can count the number of times I have made cornbread. It can’t be more than five and that feels generous. I love it though. I have always loved it. It is pure and simple comfort food. The problem is, I have hated baking for a really long time. That is likely the reason that I never make it. Thankfully, I am gradually moving through the hate. It’s more like mild enjoyment at this point because, like with most things that we do, the more comfortable we become, the more enjoyable it is.
Back to my love of cornbread. It’s a sad love story because I haven’t enjoyed a piece of cornbread in a long time. Most are laced with flour which means gluten-free me can’t have it. Just recently, we were out to dinner with friendsfriends and they served the most spectacular cornbread. It was glistening in butter. I was so excited to sink my teeth into it until I learned that this too was made with flour. Maybe that is why I was dreaming of cornbread? That cornbread? Regardless, this batch had to be gluten-free.
My eyes opened that morning and I was on a mission. It was out of the oven before anyone else was awake. That in itself was satisfying. Plus, it smelled really good. Not a bad way to kick off the holiday and get my oven going.
The cornmeal was speckled with hints of red and brown. It was beautiful. I was thrilled to be using it and happy to know it could no longer mock me from the cabinet. I reached for my favorite cast-iron skillet. I don’t think I had even had coffee yet.
As I was gathering my ingredients I happened upon an open bag of hazelnut flour and a light-bulb went off. Add hazelnut flour to the cornbread? Would that work? Would it be weird? This is usually around the time that I get into trouble. My cooking brain tries to tinker with the baked good recipe and it flops. I tried it anyway and the result was pretty amazing. Different, but delicious.
The nuttiness of the corn and the hazelnut paired perfectly with our holiday spread. A touch of orange zest made this skillet-bread all the more bright, festive and flavorful. It was moist, in part thanks to the butter (yes, butter), though I have to credit the hazelnut flour as well. The recipe got rave reviews.
When you are craving cornbread and willing to try something new, this recipe is sure to surprise you. In a good way. Oh, and regular old cornmeal will do.
- 2 cups of cornmeal
- 1 cup of hazelnut flour (any nut flour would work)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup milk or milk alternative
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus some for the pan)
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 cup real maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Grease a medium-sized cast-iron skillet (or 8×8 baking dish) with butter, and place it in the oven to warm while you prep the other ingredients.
- In a large mixing bowl add the cornmeal, nut flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combined. I use a fork or whisk.
- In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk, butter, maple and zest.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Remove the heated skillet and pour the batter in. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through. Cool prior to eating.