Sunday, February 5, 2012

Desperation Bread - Cornmeal Cakes

Over the past two weeks, I've slowly settled into my beautiful apartment.  I'm getting used to cooking for myself, living twice as far from campus as before, and timing my life to the somewhat unstable bus schedules.  Last night, I even helped my friend to make dinner, surrounded by more friends in their apartment.  The stew was spiced and stuffed with vegetables, followed by a perfect pasta dish with sauce made by yet another friend.  We finished with a famous pumpkin pie and vanilla whipped cream made by my boyfriend's father.

One thing I'm not used to, however, is not being able to buy food whenever I like.  With a meal plan on campus, all manner of emergency edibles are available to you.  These items can be bought for cash as well, but I am loath to pay so much for mediocre quality.  In particular, bread.  I’ve learned to bake soft and fluffy Chinese bakery bread, and have since become reluctant to eat simple carbohydrates that I don’t love.  Bagels from NYC (even the airport) overshadow any from the grocery store, and the plastic-bagged limp loaves whimper rather than speak to me.  Sadly for my bread cravings, though, I had run out of flour the day before.  Unwilling to give up and inspired by my corn muffins the weekend before, I started to fiddle.  

Bright and sunny cornmeal always makes me a little happy.

Cooked like pancakes, these little patties are crisp outside and barely tender within.  They’re very sturdy and hard to overcook, since they’re pretty dry to begin with.  However, they’re crumbly and a little hard to handle until cooked.  I made them on Thursday, again last night and once again this morning to photograph, and I think I’ve come up with something edible that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or time.  They don’t keep very well, drying out a little and losing their crisp edge, but I would definitely still eat them (after a full day of classes, a remarkable number of things are appreciable).  I think they’d be great just crumbled and toasted like cereal, actually.  I’ll try this out as soon as my cereal runs out.

Cornmeal Cakes straight from the flames of It’s on Fire!!!
Makes around 6 tablespoon cakes

1 tablespoon salted butter, melted (if using unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
½ cup cornmeal
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1 small mixing bowl
1 fork for mixing
¼ teaspoon measure
1 teaspoon measure
1 tablespoon measure
½ cup measure
1 frying pan (I used my small pot, since, um, it’s the only item I have)
1 frying spatula
Oil or butter for frying


1. Melt the butter, probably in the bowl in the microwave.

2. Mix in the cornmeal, baking powder and sugar.  Add the milk and mix completely. 

3. Heat the pan to medium and add some oil or butter to heat.

4. Pack the tablespoon measure with the cornmeal mixture and gently drop into the hot oil.  Press lightly with the spatula to flatten if desired.  Allow to cook for one minute, then flip and cook for two more minutes.  Enjoy while hot!

They make a good quick breakfast when you're running out the door.
Note: The cakes may fall apart.  At that point, I think they’re best used as cereal.

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