Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Taste of Winter: Blue Corn Maiden Bread

The Hopi myth of The Blue Corn Maiden parallels that of the Greek tale of Persephone. In both traditions a woman is loved by a male figure who represents the transformational power of darkness. Fall and winter seasons transpire when the women are in the exclusive company of their lovers. Spring and summer return when the women are reunited with family and friends. Glass Petal Smoke developed the recipe for Blue Corn Maiden Bread to honor the period of creative hibernation that winter represents.  Keep your belly full and your hearth warm; soon the first crocus will bloom and you'll be counting spring flowers.

Blue Corn Maiden Bread
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
Serves 9-12

·        1 cup Bob's Red Mill® Blue Cornmeal
·        1 tbsp. Rumford® Baking Powder (non-aluminum, double-acting)
·        ½ tsp. non-iodized sea salt
·        ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (the fruitier, the better)
·        cup low-fat, sodium-free buttermilk
·        2 omega-3 eggs

·        Preheat oven to 400°.
·        Combine cornmeal, pastry flour, palm sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
·        In another bowl whisk buttermilk and olive oil.
·        In a separate bowl beat the eggs until the whites and yolks are thoroughly combined.
·        Add eggs to the buttermilk and olive oil mixture and mix well.
·        Gently combine wet ingredients to dry ingredients.
·        Spray an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray. Pour the batter into the dish, and move slightly from side to side to ensure even distribution of the batter.
·        Bake for 20 minutes. Before removing from the oven, test with a toothpick in the center of the pan. The toothpick will come out clean when it is done.
·        Allow to cool before cutting and refrigerate what doesn't disappear (which this cornbread has a habit of doing).

 Flavor Notes:
·        Blue cornmeal contains less starch and more protein than yellow cornmeal. It also has a sweeter and nuttier flavor than yellow or white cornmeal.
·        Pastry flour contributes to the lighter density of this healthy cornbread. If you don’t have access to it you may substitute unbleached all-purpose flour.
·        Evaporated palm sugar is less sweet than table sugar and has natural caramel notes. It is outstanding when used to sweeten coffee or oatmeal as the flavor profiles complement each other. The brand recommended is also sulfite-free, unlike traditional palm sugars on the market.
·        Extra virgin olive oil combined with buttermilk creates a moist and addictive crumb in this recipe (translation: you won't miss the butter). The short baking time also preserves the flavor of the olive oil. Feel free to experiment with high quality extra virgin olive oils that are pressed with citrus peel or infused with a touch of hot pepper.
·        There is less saturated fat in this recipe than there is in traditional cornbread. To turn it into cake, just add one or two teaspoons of vanilla and a warm spice like cinnamon. Serve with a dollop of plain, non-fat Greek-style yogurt.

Glass Petal Smoke's recipe for Blue Corn Maiden Bread is a healthier, re-jiggered version of  Hungry Mouse's "Buttermilk Cornbread". The flavor notes in this post illustrate the how these changes affect taste.

You don't have to be a child to appreciate "How Many Days Until Spring," a home school game designed by blogger Cindy Giron.

Helen Hardin is the Taos artist who painted the image of the Blue Corn Maiden used to accompany this post. Though she is no longer living, her vibrant paintings can be found for sale here. Her story, though somewhat tragic and heartbreaking (she struggled spiritually with a mixed Anglo-American Indian heritage and suffered from breast cancer) is thoroughly human.