Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sweet and Fluffy Coconut Cornbread

Confession: I grew up not eating sweet cornbread. In the south, sweet cornbread is well, a bit blasphemous. It wasn't until I left my parents' house that I got sweet cornbread on a regular basis. Does that mean that I love sweet cornbread? Hardly. Pretty frequently, I opt instead for a spicy cornbread with whole kernel corn and jalapenos.

But, today seemed like a good day for a nice, warm sweet cornbread that I could pair with a vaguely chili-like stew. A friend of mine recently attempted to make a coconut cornbread that used coconut flakes and coconut oil -- and was disappointed that the coconut flavor didn't come through very strongly. I wanted to increase the coconut flavor (you should think coconut! when you taste this) when I worked with this recipe. The trickiest part was figuring out how much liquid to use (I guess coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid -- this definitely used more water than I expected and you should see my note below about this, in case it was my cornmeal and not my flour greedily hogging water).

This is a vegan, gluten-free recipe that gets baked in an 8 x 8 baking dish, though I imagine it would also do well if you cooked it in a cast iron skillet (and it would probably have a better crust on the skillet side!). Serve it with a hearty stew for dinner, eat it as a snack, or pour some warm milk on it and serve it as a warm cereal for breakfast -- whatever makes you happy.

Coconut Cornbread
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup water
1/3 cup coconut, almond, or soy milk
2 tablespoons vegan buttery spread (or coconut oil)
1 tablespoon canola oil

2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax + 6 tablespoons warm water)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together the dry ingredients (coconut flour through salt) together in a medium-sized bowl. In a small saucepan, over low heat, mix together the agave nectar, water, milk, buttery spread, and canola oil. Once the buttery spread has just melted, add the flax eggs to the liquid mixture, and then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth (note: you might need to add up to another 1/2 cup of water -- you want a batter that is a little thicker than cake batter).

Pour the cornbread mixture into a greased 8 x 8 pan, and bake for about 25 minutes, until it is golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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