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Making a nice serving of golden brown cornbread isn’t rocket science. You’re in for a treat if you get the ingredients right. But the question is, what are the right ingredients?
Like any famous recipe, there are strong opinions on how to make cornbread. One of the most frequently asked questions is, can I make cornbread without flour?
The short answer is yes, you can. In this article, we’ll tell you why cornbread is possible without flour and how to make it.
Flour determines the texture of cornbread. Although we all love a bit of crumbliness in our cornbread, nobody wants to end up eating corn dust. That’s when flour could be useful.
There’s nothing to hold the cornbread together if you rely solely on cornmeal. Cornmeal has a coarse texture and no gluten, so it needs something to glue it together. Thus, mixing cornmeal with wheat flour can help you reach a lighter and denser consistency with a hint of crumble.
That is to say, a cornbread that’s strictly made with cornmeal and with no flour will be more crumbly and less tender than cornbread that’s made of cornmeal and flour together. Yet, there are some alternatives to flour when it comes to introducing a moist feel to cornbread.
The short answer is, yes, you can make cornbread without flour. Traditional Southern cornbread doesn’t have a grain of flour or sugar in it.
However, you should know that flour is what reduces the crumbliness of cornbread. If you use cornmeal only, you’ll be making that kind of crumbly cornbread that falls apart before reaching your mouth.
The question that begs is how to make cornbread moist without adding flour. No matter how much you like your cornbread to be crumbly, you don’t want to eat a dried-out corn sandcastle!
The easiest trick in the book would be to let the batter sit for a while before putting it in the oven. This way, you’re giving cornmeal time to absorb moisture before baking.
Another way is to introduce more fats or liquids into your batter. You can try oil, shortening, a beaten egg, or creamed corn.
Although it’s always attributed to the South, cornbread was first made by native Americans before Europeans settled in. Due to the scarcity of wheat at the time, the indigenous people of America used to make bread out of cornmeal instead.
The cornbread wasn’t palatable to the European settlers, but they had no choice. Wheat bread was only made on special occasions and among the rich.
After wheat became more available around the start of the twentieth century, Americans went back to making wheat bread, but they didn’t stop making cornbread, though.
Cornbread remained a staple of Southern cuisine because the heat and humidity of the South weren’t convenient for storing wheat and rye. The Southern embraced cornbread as an alternative to bread. That’s why traditional cornbread has no flour no sugar and should be cooked in an iron skillet. It should be savory, not sweet, after all.
“The North thinks it knows how to make cornbread, but this is gross superstition.” Mark Twain notes in his autobiography. Northern cornbread tends to be sweet and has a finer texture because they use nearly equal amounts of cornmeal and wheat.
This is the most straightforward recipe for making cornbread without flour. It acts as a base for other recipes, sweet or savory.
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 cups cornmeal, white or yellow
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ teaspoon buttermilk, non-fat
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
Start with heating your oven to 450°F. Then, put 3 tablespoons of oil in your baking dish and preheat it in the oven.
Whisk the solid ingredients (baking powder, cornmeal, and salt) together in a bowl. Then mix them with the egg and buttermilk. You can add a cup of creamed corn to enrich the taste.
Get your baking dish out of the oven and swirl the oil around to cover the base and the lower half of the sides. Carefully pour the extra oil into the cornmeal mix and stir well.
Pour the batter into the hot pan and put it back in the oven for about 20 minutes. You know you’re done when the bread is somehow firm in the middle with a golden surface.
Slather on some butter, let it cool, and serve it warm!
This recipe is another way to make gluten-free cornbread that’s also free of flour. Unlike the original recipe, this one involves using yogurt instead of milk for a richer and denser texture.
- 2 cups of ground cornmeal, preferably yellow
- 1½ cup yogurt, plain
- 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg, beaten
Grease a cast-iron skillet or whatever baking dish you use with butter and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Mix the dry ingredients (cornbread, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) and the wet ingredients (yogurt, egg, and butter) in two separate bowls. Stir the elements of each bowl well to mix them.
Pour the wet ingredients mix alongside the honey on the dry ingredients, preferably making a well in the dry mix to pour the wet mix in. Whisk the mixture till you get a homogenous batter.
Pour into the skillet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Again, we’re looking for a firm center, golden brown edges, and a light golden brown top.
Slice and serve!
Cornbread doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, its versatility is one of the reasons why it’s so popular. Sweet, savory, soft, crumbly; there are endless varieties of cornbread!
Here’s a handful of additions to the batter that can spruce up the taste of your no-flour cornbread.
Many people love to spice up their cornbread by adding Jalapeños, and we can see why. It does give your cornbread an edge.
Add two tablespoons of chopped Jalapeños to your batter, and that’s it! Add ½ a cup of shredded cheddar cheese as well if you want.
If you want a jolt of spice from your cornbread, you might try adding some green chile.
Add about ¼ cup of chopped green chile and ¾ cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the batter, and enjoy the fiery taste!
What about a savory taste with no spices?
Grate ⅓ cup of parmesan cheese, finely chop ¼ of pepperoni and add them to the batter alongside a teaspoon of ground black pepper. Serve with meatballs or fried eggs.
One of our favorite low-sugar desserts is cornbread with maple syrup and any type of fruit. You can simply prep it by adding ½ cup of fresh or frozen cranberries and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup.
Drizzle more maple syrup when you get it out of the oven and serve warm.
For the sophisticated ones out there, try adding ½ cup of peeled, grated apples, red or green, and two tablespoons of chopped sage. Sweet, but not too sweet!
Here are some questions that come to mind when trying to make the perfect melt-in-your-mouth serving of cornbread.
A cast iron skillet is the best pan for making cornbread. Anyway, a cast iron skillet should be a staple in every kitchen; you can use it to make steak or cake and everything in between, including cornbread!
You don’t have to stick to a skillet, though. Any baking pan will do. You can use a cake pan or a muffin tin. The difference will be in how crunchy the edges of the cornbread will be. You’ll get the most crunch if you use an iron skillet.
That’s a tricky question. Cornmeal, which is used to make cornbread, is made by grinding corn. Corn doesn’t contain gluten. So the premise is that cornbread should be gluten-free.
However, you can’t ensure that with the cornmeal you buy at your local supermarket—many brands of cornmeal mix cornmeal with wheat flour during manufacturing. Therefore, when buying cornmeal, you must be careful if you’re sensitive to gluten.
To be safe, look for packages that explicitly say they’re gluten-free.
Both yellow and white corn is okay. Depending on the region you live in, you’ll probably find only one of them in your local supermarket. White corn is dominant in the South, while yellow corn is the one available in the North.
You can make cornbread without flour. All you need to do is to introduce some fats to the recipe to compensate for the dried-out feel. Don’t forget to spice it up using some of our suggestions!