Whilst road tripping in the Deep South of the US last year, we got pretty excited about the Southern food. And when you look at the evidence, there’s a lot to like. Barbecue, shrimp & grits, shrimp boils, fried pickles and green tomatoes, boiled peanuts, fried chicken, corn bread. Not the kind of thing to be writing about when you’re hungry like I am now.
Anyway, one of the many memorable meals we had was at a place called Dante’s in New Orleans. I mentioned it before in this post, but as an ‘amuse bouche‘ we were given something called a spoon bread. A close relative to corn bread, it had a softer, spongier texture, was deeper in colour due to the inclusion of molasses and as the name suggests, was eaten with a spoon. It was totally sweet and delicious, a bit like eating a desert before you’ve even started your meal, and I thought it was great. I asked our waitress if I could have the recipe, and before we left the chef handed it over, of which this is a slightly re-worked version.
Like they did at Dante’s, I baked mine in cast iron corn bread skillets (16 x 3 cm) that we picked up from the Lodge factory store whilst we were over there. But you could bake them in any oven proof dish, or do mini ones in a muffin tins.
A couple of notes before we begin, I’ve switch the molasses in the recipe for black treacle for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I find that molasses has a slightly bitter aftertaste which I personally don’t like, and secondly black treacle is easier to get hold of. Similarly, if you can’t get your hands on stone ground grits, just use polenta. Finally, the original recipe also calls for buttermilk. Again, this isn’t that readily available in the UK, but you can just switch this up for plain low fat yoghurt.
Ingredients (makes 2)
1 large egg
250ml butter milk / low fat plain yoghurt
40ml sour cream
30g molasses / black treacle
65g plain flour
65g grits / cornmeal / polenta
75g caster sugar
4g baking powder
4g baking soda
The method is pretty quick, so set your oven to 180c, and then grease whatever you’re going to bake the breads in.
Once your oven is up to temperature, take two large bowls. Combine all your wet ingredients in one (eggs. buttermilk, sour cream, molasses) and then sift all your dry ingredients (flour, grits, sugar, baking powder, baking soda) together in to the other.
Mix the wet ingredients together until well combined, and then fold in the dry in three stages until fully incorporated. Divide the mixture across the two skillets, and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the the mixture is set and a knife comes out clean.
Serve as part of a brunch with some honeycomb butter, or as we had them, as a desert with some cream and stewed plums.