Happy Gluten-Free Thanksgiving – Part One: GF Cornbread & Stuffing
Happy Canadian (a.k.a. “real”) Thanksgiving, minions!
As I may have mentioned before in this blog, one of my good friends recently discovered that his ongoing digestive issues were not the result of his body trying to destroy itself, but instead were caused by an intolerance to gluten. He’ll be one of my guests at my Thanksgiving dinner tonight, so I’m going entirely gluten-free with the meal. That means gluten-free bread (in this case, cornbread), gluten-free gravy, gluten-free pumpkin muffins for dessert, and gluten-free bread stuffing in the turkey.
I recently posted my mom’s recipe for bread stuffing, which is a favourite food of mine. There was never enough stuffing to go around at big family meals when I was growing up, and I’ll still happily sit down and eat three servings of the delicious concoction. I don’t want my gluten-free friend to be unable to eat the turkey, though, so this time I’ve got to get a bit creative. Some searching around the Internet yielded help: I found several recipes for gluten-free cornbread, and after a few experiments have come up with a version that is easy to make, doesn’t require ten different types of flour, and holds together beautifully despite the lack of gluey gluten. I’ve also managed to make it without xanthan gum, which seems to be a common requirement in gluten-free baking (and if you want a spongier cornbread, it’s probably a good idea to add a half-teaspoon of the stuff) — I avoided it because my grocery store only sells xanthan gum in teeny little very expensive packages, and I’m hoping to find it more inexpensively somewhere else. In this particular case, an extra egg to hold things together seems to have done the trick quite well.
My GF Cornbread Recipe
- 1 cup rice flour (brown or white; I didn’t find it made any difference)
- 3/4 cup fine corn meal
- 2 tbsp sugar or honey
- 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp canola or corn oil
- 1 tsp ground cloves and/or chili powder (if desired)
Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re doing this, put the baking pan you’re going to use into the oven so that it can pre-heat as well. I use a 9 inch round cake pan, but a square pan would work just as well. Having the pan nice and hot before the batter hits it will help you to get that nice crust on the outside of your bread. Once the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of oil to it to prevent sticking and help the bread start cooking nice and fast.
Combine the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. If you like your cornbread sweet, omit the cloves and add an extra tablespoon of sugar or honey. If you prefer spicy, add the cloves and/or chili powder in with the dry ingredients (feel free to use other spices if you like; cornbread can be made with all sorts of combinations).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once, and mix only until everything is just blended. Pour the batter immediately into the hot pan, and bake for about 20 minutes (until the edges turn goldeny-brown and the center is fully cooked).
You can serve your cornbread hot and fresh from the oven (I’ll be making a batch up right before dinner time tonight), but if you want to use it for making stuffing, you’ll want to have it prepared the day before. Once it comes out of the pan, cut it into 1-inch cubes and leave these out overnight to go slightly stale. Stale bread works better for making stuffing, because it holds its shape for longer and doesn’t turn completely to mush when you add the eggs and milk.
Once you’ve got your stale cornbread ready, making stuffing proceeds just the same as if you were using regular bread. Soften up some onion and other vegetables with butter and spices in a large pan or pot (for a turkey you’ll probably want to make 2 or 3 times as much as you would for a chicken; start with at least 4 cups of veggies). Once the vegetables are nice and soft, remove them from the heat and add your cornbread, an egg or two, and enough milk to make the bread start falling apart. Cram your turkey full of this deliciousness, and you’re ready to make Thanksgiving dinner!