Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Happy Accident!

Several years ago I purchased two cast iron corn stick pans at a second hand store. I’d wanted to add some to my culinary arsenal for quite some time, but didn’t want to pay the price for new pans. It was a happy accident! I brought the pans home, cleaned them up, seasoned them (see my earlier post “Carefully Cared For” on cast iron seasoning how-to), and have been using them ever since!

The cast iron pans give the corn bread a lovely golden crisp crust. Perhaps it is just my imagination, but the corn bread seems to taste better when baked in cast iron! Corn sticks are a perfect accompaniment to almost everything and in particular chili, soups and stews. They are also delicious eaten on their own. It is not uncommon to hear guests and family alike exclaim, “Oh, I love these!” when the cloth-lined basket filled with corn sticks hot from the oven is placed on the table.

Of course, this recipe can be baked in muffin tins. Directions for this are at the end of the recipe as are directions to bake as a bread.

Corn Bread Sticks

1 c. cornmeal

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 eggs

1 c. milk

3 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. When the oven is hot, place two cast iron corn stick pans in the oven to preheat. In the meantime, prepare the batter.

In a medium bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and brown sugar, and stir to combine. Set aside. Pour the milk into a two-cup measure. Add the eggs and oil to the milk and beat with a fork until combined. Set aside.

Open the oven and check the pans. Sprinkle with a few drops of water. If the water sizzles they are ready to be oiled. Remove one of the pans from the oven and brush lightly with olive oil. Return to the oven and remove the second pan, brush with oil and return to the oven.

Pour the milk mixture over the cornmeal mixture and stir with the fork until just combined. Do not over mix.

Remove one of the pans from the oven and set on the counter. Use a scant ¼ c. solid measure to fill each stick. When sticks are full, set pan on stove top. Remove second pan from the oven and fill in the same way. Place both pans in the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes or until done. Sticks are done with a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the underside of the sticks are a crisp golden brown.

Remove pans from the oven. Let them sit for a minute or two. Insert the edge of a dinner knife under the edge of the stick and gently lift to remove it from the pan. Put the warm sticks in a towel-lined basket, and serve immediately.

Alternatively, cool on wire rack and serve later. Store any leftover sticks in air tight plastic bag and store in refrigerator.

To bake in muffin tins: Generously grease 12 standard muffin cups or line with papers. Fill as above. Bake for about 20 minutes or until pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

To bake as a bread: Grease an 8x8 inch pan. Scrape batter into the prepared pan and bake in 375 oven until done, 20 to 30 minutes or until tester comes clean.

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