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Great Cookbooks for Families: Crescent Dragonwagon’s Cornbread Gospels

Reviewed by Katy Killilea

cornbreadAt a friend’s cookout, the children tasted heaven in a Shaw’s brand corn muffin.  A feeding frenzy ensued: The kids dropped everything to cram the yellow golf balls into their faces with two fists.

However delicious they may have been, grocery-store muffins have two strikes against them: The list of ingredients is too weird and too long, and they cost too much. Corn muffins are easy enough (and so cheap!) to make, but it can be tricky to pinpoint the precise level of sweet-salt-butter-crumbly that make them so appealing. Enter The Cornbread Gospels.

This book covers every regional corn-based, bread-related thing in the universe and allows you to find the precise combination that will satisfy your audience. Little muffins are perfect for lunch boxes and snacks, and they have the yin-yang of cakey treat and wholesome energy that makes everyone happy to have them around.

Crescent Dragonwagon gives us more than 200 takes on cornbread. (She includes things like tortillas and johnnycakes, but doesn’t 200 seem impossible?) The following muffin recipe is, for the moment, The One. For a few minutes of measuring and stirring, and a few cents’ worth of ingredients, you can have loads of delicious muffins that rival, yes, even those purchased in a plastic clamshell box at the grocery store.

Simply Corn Muffins
(adapted from The Cornbread Gospels
by Crescent Dragonwagon. Used with permission from Workman Publishing Co. Inc., New York. All rights reserved.)
Makes one dozen standard muffins or approximately 50 mini-muffins.

INGREDIENTS:

Something to grease your pan

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat, or all-purpose flour)

1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar in the raw (or white sugar)

1/3 cup melted butter

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease your pan or pans of choice.

2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Whisk together buttermilk and baking soda in a medium bowl until baking soda is dissolved. Whisk in eggs, sugar, and melted butter.

4. Lightly stir wet ingredients into dry. When just combined, spoon batter into prepared pan or pans.

5. Bake until golden brown: 15-20 minutes for standard muffins, 10-15 minutes for minis.

Sometimes I prick the tops with a toothpick and drizzle a tiny bit of maple or agave syrup while the muffins are warm. This is a frill and totally unnecessary; the muffins are pretty sweet as is.

The details:

The Cornbread Gospels by Crescent Dragonwagon
2007 by Workman  $14.95

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Written by Katy Killilea