Baking History

A Taste For The Past

New England Corn Cake

Posted by bakinghistory on July 12, 2007


A yeasted corn bread with a crisp, golden crust and a creamy, soft interior.

Blog-Event XXV- American Cooking

From the original recipe by Fannie L. Gillette

In “The White House Cook Book” 1887–USA


1 quart (948 ml) whole milk

2 cups (300 g) stone ground yellow corn meal (whole grain)

1 cup (140 g) bread flour

1-1/2 tsp (6 g) active dry yeast dissolved in 1 tbsp warm water

1 tsp (6 g) salt

2 tbsp (30 g) butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

1/2 tsp (2.3 g) baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp (15 ml) warm water

Mix corn meal and bread flour in a large bowl. Scald the milk then pour it over the flours and mix well, taking care to eliminate lumps. Set aside to cool and when lukewarm add the melted butter and the yeast dissolved in 1 tbsp of warm water. Cover the bowl and set aside for 2-3 hours, until the mixture is light and bubbly.necorncakethumb.jpg

Preheat the oven to 450° F (230° C). 350°F (180°C)

Beat the eggs until light and foamy, add salt and baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp of water, then pour into the cornmeal mixture. Beat until eggs are well incorporated then pour the batter (it will still be relatively loose) into a lightly greased 10-inch (28 cm) cake pan (I used a cast iron pan), let stand, covered, for 15 minutes then bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. (A few minutes before the end of the baking time increase the oven temperature to 450°F (230°C) in order to get a nice golden crust.

Serve hot from the oven.

Note. The first time I tried to make this recipe I thought it would never work: there seemed to be too much liquid and the cornmeal sank to the bottom of the bowl in a loose mass. But after the yeast was added and left to ferment for a while, the mixture turned light and relatively cohesive. Well beaten eggs and a hot oven did the rest. This corn bread turns out perfect every time.

7 Responses to “New England Corn Cake”

  1. zorra said

    And it looks perfect, too! I will try your recipe soon.

  2. bakinghistory said

    Thanks Zorra!:-)

  3. Ulrike said

    Thanks for the recipe with measuring in weight! Looks great

  4. bakinghistory said

    Hi Ulrike, thank you!:-)

  5. Erik said

    First, I really enjoy your website. I inherited some of my grandmother’s old recipes when she passed away and I enjoy looking at and sometimes making those old recipes – something about them just feels different than today’s recipes.

    As for the cornbread, growing up on the west coast, we always had ‘sweet’ cornbread. I understand most southern cornbread is not sweet. Have you tried a sweet version of this recipe? Any suggestions on how to make it work properly?

  6. bakinghistory said

    Hi Erik, thanks!

    I have not tried to make a sweet version of this particular recipe, yet. But I think it would be a good variation indeed. I’ve seen that in the old recipes I have read so far for this quantity of cornmeal (2 cups) overall the sugar is added in a range of 1 to 4 tbsp. My hunch would be to dissolve the sugar into the scalded milk, then follow the steps of the recipe.

    In fact, I will make this sweetened version for tonight dinner!:-) I’ll try with 2 tbsp sugar and post an update.

  7. bakinghistory said

    I tried making this recipe using 2 tbsp sugar and it was just lightly sweet–very nice, but more sugar would have also been good.
    As you were saying, here in New England cornbreads are traditionally sweet, and in fact I thought this recipe was interesting because it did not require any sugar or molasses and so was a bit unusual.

    As for baking, now that I have baked this in my new oven, I think it is better to start at 350F and only toward the end increase the oven temperature to 450F to get a nice golden crust. So I have edited the post as well.

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