Tuesday, May 8, 2012


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                               Vegan Spoonbread-Style Corn Casserole

For some reason, I've been obsessed with spoonbread this last week or so.  No, I didn't grow up in the American South (though some of maternal ancestors were from Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia).  But I do love corn in any form and making a good vegan spoonbread has been a goal of mine for quite a few years.  Today I'm offering you two versions.  Neither of them is the old-fashioned soufflé type (I haven't mastered a vegan version of that yet!).  The old-fashioned spoonbread is made from cooked cornmeal mush, either yellow or white, eggs (often with the whites beaten separately), butter and milk (or cream).  No wonder John Edgerton, author of Southern Food, wrote that it is "the lightest, richest, and most delicious of all cornmeal dishes, a veritable cornbread soufflé."

The spoonbread varieties made with un-separated eggs are heavier, more of an "everyday" spoonbread, I suppose. These are the types that are best suited to being made vegan, but I have plans to tackle the soufflé version soon!

I tried a couple of vegan versions made with cooked mush, but, so far, they have been on the heavy side, so I'm going to have to do more work on that.  For the moment, I decided to try a more modern version, and to re-visit a type of cornbread that I made for years, that I didn't know was also often referred to as a type of spoonbread.  I was aiming for a reasonably light, very moist product (but not gooey) that could be scooped out of the pan. Unfortunately, the modern versions contain less corn than the original spoonbread, but I'm going to see if I can remedy that in future.

My first recipe is a moist, sumptuous "casserole bread" that utilizes a biscuit mix and canned cream-style corn (which actually IS vegan).  It is definitely a modern version of this bread type, but a popular one, judging by the avalanche of related recipes that I found online!  I make my own biscuit mix (recipe provided below) and my vegan recipe avoids not only the eggs, but the sour cream, excessive butter or margarine, cheese, and heavy cream that is called for in many similar recipes.

The second recipe is actually a cornbread that I made for years and never thought of as a spoonbread-- it's a cornbread that's made in such a way that it ends up with a creamy layer of "custard" on the bottom.  It's made in the same way as a pudding cake, with liquid poured over the batter at the last minute before baking. But, in my research, I started to see this type of cornbread referred to as a spoonbread, so I decided to veganize that recipe, too.  It's so comforting!  

I happen to own 3 versions of Joy of Cooking, so I looked up this recipe in all of them to see if it had changed much over the years-- and, indeed, it has, as the ratio of cornmeal to flour has gradually changed. In my 1946 version, the recipe contained 6 tablespoons of cornmeal and 2 tablespoons of bread flour.  In my 1973 version, the recipe contained 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/4 cup flour.  In the 1997 version, the recipe contains 6 tablespoons cornmeal to 1/2 cup flour (actually, they have doubled that to make a "fatter" bread).

Spoonbread (particularly soufflé type) is often served with special meals and holiday meals, but any type makes a great breakfast food, drizzled with a bit of maple syrup.  It's also delicious with spicy beans and stews, or with cooked greens.

NOTE ABOUT EGG REPLACERS:  In these recipes, I used powdered commercial egg replacers because they are easily available and can be used by most people. However, if you happen to have a copy of either of the delightful books by Crescent Dragonwagon, The Cornbread Gospels or Bean by Bean: a Cookbook (on p. 255), you can use her inventive homemade egg sub that she calls "Eggscellence" (on pps. 352-353). (You can see the recipe here, too.)   I am planning to play with using the new vegan egg yolk sub, The Vegg (UPDATE: The Vegg is not available in Canada at this time) and also Aquafaba, in future as well.

Printable Recipe (includes Biscuit Mix recipe)

 Serves 8 

1 1/8 cups    nondairy milk  
1 tablespoon    Ener-G or Orgran No-Egg egg replacer powder  
1 tablespoon    nutritional yeast flakes  
2 1/2 cups    Bryanna's Homemade Lower-Fat Bisquick-Style Mix (see recipe below) 
1/2 cup    yellow cornmeal  
1 can (14 oz)    cream-style corn (yes, it's vegan!)
1/4 cup    melted vegan buttery spread (try my palm-oil-free "Buttah" or my New Easy Butter-y Spread)  
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 2-quart round or oval casserole and line the bottom with baking parchment cut to fit.

With an immersion blender or an electric mixer/beater, beat the milk with the egg replacer powder and nutritional yeast until very foamy. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the biscuit mix and cornmeal. Add the frothy milk mixture and the can of cream-style corn. Mix briefly (like a muffin batter). Scoop into prepared pan and smooth the top evenly. Carefully pour the melted vegan buttery spread over the whole top surface. 

Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Serve hot, plain, or with savory items such as stew or chili, or with maple syrup.
 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving): 301.4 calories; 32% calories from fat; 11.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 427.2mg sodium; 337.3mg potassium; 46.0g carbohydrates; 2.4g fiber; 2.9g sugar; 43.6g net carbs; 6.5g protein; 6.5 points.

Yield: 10 cups  (I wonder if it would work using a GF flour mix?)
This is a white flour mix-- I'm going to try it with half white whole wheat pastry flour next time.  There's another biscuit mix in my book World Vegan Feast, but this one seems to work better in a spoonbread.

9 cups    unbleached white flour  
1/4 cup    baking powder  
3 tablespoons    unbleached light organic sugar  
4 teaspoons    salt  
3/4 cup    cooking oil of choice  

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Drizzle in the oil and mix with your hands until it looks crumbly. Store airtight in a cool place.
 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per cup): 574.5 calories; 26% calories from fat; 17.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 759.7mg sodium; 726.7mg potassium; 92.4g carbohydrates; 3.2g fiber; 4.1g sugar; 89.3g net carbs; 11.6g protein; 12.3 points.
 Cooking Tips
If you want to use this in a recipe that calls for buttermilk, use soy, nut or hemp milk curdled with a little lemon juice, and add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of "buttermilk" used. Add it to the dry ingredients. 


(can be soy-free and gluten-free)
Serves 4 to 6
This old-fashioned treat, which I consider real "comfort food", is also called "Crusty Soft-Center SpoonBread" and was known as "spider bread" in pioneer days, because it was made before an open fire in a cast iron skillet with "legs" called a "spider". 

This cornbread starts out very liquid-y, and ends up with a "custard" layer on the bottom. It's delicious with maple syrup. I didn't think I could make it work without eggs, but it does! The recipe can be doubled and made in a 9" square pan or 10" cast iron skillet. NOTE: I made this the first time in an 8-inch cast iron skillet,  but I preferred it made in an 8-inch soufflé dish (straight-sided casserole) about 3 inches deep. The top was well-browned but more tender and it was a bit thicker.

1 Tbs oil (this replaces the traditional lard-- I use olive oil with a few drops of dark sesame oil) 
DRY MIX:    
2/3 cup cornmeal        
3 Tbs flour (or GF flour mix)   
1/2 tsp salt      
1/2 tsp baking soda    
1 Tbs vinegar or lemon juice PLUS   
     nondairy milk to make 1 cup        
2 Tbs water    
2 Tbs Ener-G or Orgran No-Egg egg replacer powder          
1 Tbs unbleached organic sugar         
1/2 cup nondairy milk (a richer one such as full-fat soymilk or nut milk is the tastiest)        

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the oil in an 8-inch round, straight-sided casserole or soufflé dish (about 3 inches deep). Place in the oven while it heats up.
Mix the Dry Mix ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the Wet Mix ingredients and blend well. Stir into the Dry Mix just until mixed. Scrape into the hot pan with the oil. Swirl the 1/2 cup milk over the batter-DON'T STIR IN! Bake for 35 minutes.
             Before baking, with the milk poured over the top (this was the one I made in a skillet, but I preferred the one made in a soufflé dish)
Cut into 4 to 6 wedges and scoop out carefully. Turn each piece upside-down on a small plate, scraping out any residual "custard" left in the pan and spreading it over the top of the bread. Serve hot with maple syrup or with spicy beans or stews, or vegetables (you'll need a fork to eat this). It's very versatile as a side dish!

 You can see the custard layer on the bottom in this picture.  You may prefer to serve it flipped over, with the custard layer on top-- it's up to you.

Nutrition Facts for 4 servings:
Nutrition (per serving): 180.1 calories; 26% calories from fat; 5.5g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 447.3mg sodium; 117.5mg potassium; 29.7g carbohydrates; 2.4g fiber; 4.6g sugar; 27.3g net carbs; 4.6g protein; 3.6 points.

Nutritional Facts for 6 servings:
Nutrition Facts Nutrition (per serving): 120.1 calories; 26% calories from fat; 3.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 376.5mg sodium; 78.3mg potassium; 19.8g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 3.1g sugar; 18.2g net carbs; 3.1g protein; 2.4 points.



Get Skinny, Go Vegan. said...

Have always loved this and never get around to making it. Only have memories of it at Mexican joints that I am sure did not make it vegan (over a decade ago!).

Elizabeth said...

Made version #2 today and it was so delish! Along with the final 1/2 cup of nondairy milk (I used hazelnut), I drizzled about 2 T. of maple syrup over the top. The custard was just a wee bit sweet and flavored with maple. It was a big hit! Thank you. This one will be going into rotation.

Sheri said...

I grew up on the eastern coast of VA and spoonbread is popular there. Now I live on the other side of the state in the Mountains and no one knows what it is. :) I am definitely going to make this soon! Thank you so much for the recipe. :)

donna said...

I am so thrilled with this delicious spoon bread recipe. I have been hunting for ways to feed my son with multiple food allergies.
I used canned coconut milk, since he needs the added richness, and I also replaced the "egg replacer" with flax/water, since my son is allergic to tapioca. Turned out so perfectly, I could hardly stay away from it myself.
Thanks for making life easier!!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

That's great, Donna! I'm so glad you liked it, and it's nice to know those alternatives worked!

Jeni Q said...

I doubled the recipe for my 10" skillet. It was dry and definitely no custard formed at the bottom. :(
Perhaps I'll try it again with the original measurements.

Unknown said...

Have people added other stuff like green chiles and red peppers to this? Any suggestions on Adjustments, or would it do just to dump in what I find to the original recipe and go for it?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Unknown... by all means experiment.