Cornbread is definitely an American traditional element to the festive season and about this time of year, my social media feeds are chock full of sweet yet savoury breads. Before last year I had never tried cornbread, believe it or not?! Although, I don’t think that’s unusual living here in the UK. It’s not something you see in the supermarkets, and even cornmeal isn’t the easiest to find in the stores in my experience. I have played around with cornmeal a few times making variations on polenta – which I love when I do make it. I usually opt for a soft polenta rather than the baked squares but I look forward to playing around a bit more and hopefully bringing you some polenta-inspired dishes soon.
Making cornbread has become a little bit of an obsession of mine, well, thinking about making cornbread, anyway. I first made a batch earlier this year and enjoyed it but it didn’t pack the wow factor. More recently I’ve enjoyed a friends’ bread at a potluck dinner and, again, I thought to myself “I must make some cornbread”. A few factors hindered my ventures in the kitchen, namely that I didn’t know if my family would enjoy it, and as much as I love this recipe, I don’t think I could face a whole batch myself. Although, I would happily accept the challenge. So, when I had a girlfriend over to stay, I thought it the perfect opportunity to get inventive and look like a good host. I love making food for people, it’s my favourite way to show someone I am thinking about them.
That said, this Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Corn Bread really is a simple bake and doesn’t take long to prepare at all. It is an easy side dish to warming curries and stews as well as wintery salads and it makes a great savoury snack – even more delicious when spread with some tahini or nut butter. As it is a savoury bake, a square of cornbread will make a great breakfast, too, and being full of wholegrains means it is also a good-for-you option.
I have used light spelt flour as I like the flavour, but feel free to sub an all-purpose gluten free flour blend, although I haven’t yet tried this. I can imagine wholegrain flour would result in a heartier loaf while plain flour would be much finer – it is easily adapted.
My favourite part about this particular cornbread are the additions of black beans and sweetcorn to add more texture and bite. I often find plain breads a bit bland, so I have also added in some turmeric for colour and warmth and chilli for a gentle heat. Once you’ve made it once, feel free to play around with additional herbs and spices, perhaps some dried rosemary, garlic granules or smoked paprika will feature in your next bake?
Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Corn Bread
Makes 12-16 squares
2 cups unsweetened plant milk (I used Skimmed Organic Dairy Free Coconut Mylk)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
6 tbsp olive or hemp oil
1 ½ cups cornmeal (ground corn)
1 ¾ cups light spelt flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes (depending on spice preference)
½ tsp ground turmeric
Salt and black pepper
½ cup black beans (drained)
½ cups sweetcorn (drained)
Preheat the oven to 180Fan/200*C and line a square baking dish with parchment paper.
Add the apple cider vinegar to the mylk and whisk to combine – it will turn frothy. Leave to rest for a few minutes.
Add the cornmeal, flour, bicarbonate of soda, chilli flakes, ground turmeric, salt and black pepper to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Add the oil to the mylk mixture and then pour over the dry mix. Mix gently until the batter is smooth and then stir in the black beans and sweetcorn. Mix again although do not over-mix, some lumps of flour are OK.
Pour into the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool fully before cutting into squares and serving. Cornbread will last for up to 3 days in the fridge an airtight container and individual pieces will freeze well wrapped up.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Corn Bread, whatever your experience with cornbread is. I’m interested to hear how it compares to an American’s favourite bread, while I really hope I can encourage some cornbread novices to give it a go! Let me know if you make it and tag me in your creations – I’m @nourishing.amy on Instagram and use the hashtag #nourishingamy.
With cornbread love x