Winter rages on and it's a frosty world out there. The sort of world that calls for big pots of chili, simmering endlessly on the stove, and shiny pans of homemade corn bread puffing up in the oven. Last weekend, that scenario described my kitchen to a T.
For a lunch meeting to be held at my church that Sunday, I cooked up just such a batch of steaming red chili, enough for about 40 people. Along with it went an equally hefty batch of fluffy, sunshine-yellow corn bread. What I didn't know, however, was that another couple also planned to provide a significant amount of food for the same event. I'd had a nagging suspicion that this might occur, but ignored it and didn't take the initiative to check it out first. No matter. It all worked out fine, of course, and the leftover chili -- about half of what I'd brought -- was poured into zip-loc bags and tucked into in the church's large freezer for future use.
The corn bread, though, didn't seem to me worth freezing. Not because it wasn't good. It was, in fact, a credit to its bready race--nicely moist, slightly sweet and, frankly, kind of hard for me to resist. But corn bread is one of those things, not unlike biscuits, that are only appealing eaten out of hand when incredibly fresh. Don't you think? After all, isn't it a widely accepted fact that corn bread's natural destiny is to dry out, crumble apart, and blow away like top soil in a dust storm?
In light of that harsh reality, I took two bags of the big, soft chunks home with me. This time, I pledged silently, I wasn't going to end up tossing it all in the garbage can. But other than using the stuff once or twice for poultry dressing in the past, I'd never explored surplus corn bread's potential. This time had to be different. There was far too much of it to toss into the trash guilt-free.
So I schemed. And that's how this warm, comforting, corn bread pudding recipe was born. Is it a dessert? Yes. Is it a fabulous brunch item, sort of breakfasty in its own way? Oh, yes to that, too. It's whatever you want it to be. Go ahead . . . explore the leftover corn bread possibilities. You won't be sorry. And your garbage can will thank you.
Sweet Corn Bread Pudding
with Raisins, Cinnamon, and Maple Syrup
(For a printable version of these recipes, click here!)
Make the corn bread first. (This is a very generic recipe that appears all over; I've seen it on grocery-store brand bags of corn meal, as well as on name-brand containers of corn meal. It's universal!)
Lightly grease an 8" x 8" or 9" x 9" baking pan.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- 3/4 cup corn meal (Not coarse grain; just the typical grocery store brand will do,)
- 1 and 1/4 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached.)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt (I used coarse kosher, and a pinch more than this, actually.)
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter (I used canola oil.)