Cheddar and onion cornbread

I thought I'd share this with you because a) it is very tasty and b) it is possibly the easiest bread product you will ever make. I'm a big fan of the slow, lazy way of making bread, involving lots of kneading and proving, but sometimes only a home-baked loaf will do, and you only have an hour. Luckily, there are lots of breads out there that are not off limits. They often rely on a chemical reaction between buttermilk or yoghurt, and bicarbonate of soda, to make them rise, instead of yeast - soda bread is a good example, as is this corn bread. A blessing to the time-pressed, and just as good. They are often more crumbly and dense than bread that has risen slowly, better to eat with soup or as a sort of ploughman's lunch than for sandwiches. This, unfortunately, is quite dangerous - you end up breaking bits off to eat with pieces of cheese, and before you know it the whole loaf is gone. Oops. 

My only experience of corn bread until now was in New York, when as a picky 16-year old devoid of any gastronomic knowledge or curiosity, I was presented with a vast slab of it alongside a vast plate of chicken and chips. I was very confused - it looked like cake, tasted a bit like cake, and I couldn't really figure out what it was doing there. To be honest, I still can't figure it out.

But corn bread, I think, does have its place - particularly this version (which, by the way, is in no way redolent of cake). You can put whatever you like in the mixture - I used caramelised onions and cheddar, with a pinch of paprika, simply because I had onions and cheddar in the fridge, but things like chorizo, mushrooms, herbs, bacon, red onions, goats cheese, etc. would also be nice. It has a crumbly texture just right for eating with a slab of cheese or a big bowl of soup.

Recipe: mix 125g cornmeal (or polenta) with 125g plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, 1tsp salt and 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Make a well in the middle and add 2 eggs, 1tbsp honey or brown sugar, and 150g buttermilk or natural yoghurt. Stir until combined. Add 1/2tsp paprika, a handful of grated cheddar, and a sliced onion which you've softened in a pan with some oil (reserve a little to sprinkle on top). Mix well and put into a tin - I used a 20cm square brownie tin, but any shallow tin would work, or you could even just spoon the mixture onto a baking tray, as it's quite thick. Sprinkle some more onion and grated cheddar over the top. Bake at 220C for 20 minutes. Devour while warm with some good cheese and ham.