We both really like cornbread, as an occasional alternative to rice, with a chilli, but I've yet to find the perfect recipe. The biggest problem is the bread being too crumbly, then there are recipes that are too sweet and recipes that are too bland. Flavours can easily be worked on, but it's getting the right balance of dry to wet ingredients which is proving elusive (although I have to admit that this recipe, from Ben Mims seemed pretty good the first time I tried it - I just forgot about it until now!). Add into the mix, the desire for a gluten-free cornbread and things get complicated.
It's fairly widely recognised that adding some wheat flour is better than 100% cornmeal, if a light cornbread is required, but this can't be used in gluten-free baking. This recipe, found on Jamie Oliver's website, uses equal volumes of a gluten-free flour mix and cornmeal, and allows for the use of non-dairy milk, if required. The only thing I didn't like, at first glance, was the amount of sugar added, so I cut this down from 80g to 50g. I added half a teaspoon of xanthan gum, just because I had it to hand, and it's meant to replicate the effects of gluten in wheat flour ie cuts down on the crumbliness of baked products. I also used a mix of 50% polenta and 50% fine cornmeal instead of all cornmeal.
Converted to metric weights, I used: 200g gluten-free flour, 220g cormeal/polenta mix; 50g sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum, 2 large eggs, 360mls milk, 75g melted butter + another 10g to grease the skillet.
The method is fairly standard - mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, melt butter. Add wet ingredients and melted butter to dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don't overmix!). Pour into a pre-heated and well-greased skillet and bake in a hot oven. I used a fan oven at 160C and found that the cornbread was cooked in 25 minutes, rather than the 30-35 minutes suggested in the recipe.
The texture of this cornbread was good, but still a little crumbly. The Ben Mims recipe uses a much higher proportion of liquid, so it shouldn't spoil this recipe to increase the amount used, although it might need an extra egg too. I thought there was still a touch too much sugar in the recipe, so will cut it down even more in future. My next attempt will be to try a version of this recipe which is dairy-free too.