Several different types of cooking ingredients come from corn. Corn bread, stews and even fried catfish recipes call for some form of corn. If you are missing an ingredient knowing its equivalent or substitution can save grandma’s recipe from oblivion. If you know the use of an ingredient, it is easier to come up with a substitution. Today Mom explains corn starch, corn flour, cornmeal and that Johnny Cake.
Corn Starch: Made from the endosperm of the corn kernel. Cornstarch is used to thicken sauces, soups and stews. Substitutions for cornstarch are as follows: 1 tablespoon cornstarch = 2/3 tablespoon arrowroot OR 2 tablespoons all purpose flour OR 1 tablespoon potato starch OR 2 tablespoons quick-cooking (instant) tapioca.
Corn Flour: Made by grinding whole corn kernels into a fine powder. It is used in combination with other flours to make breads, or for breading items for frying. Corn flour contains less gluten than wheat flour. When baking, substituting corn flour instead of wheat flour will result in a heavier bread. If you just need corn flour for breading, you can use regular flour instead.
Corn Flour can also be used to thicken sauces. If you don’t have corn flour, substitute with corn meal ground to a powder in a food processor. You can also thicken sauces by substituting regular wheat flours in the same measurements.
Sauce Cooking Tip: Before adding any powdered thickener to a sauce it is a good idea to dissolve it first. Use a little liquid from your sauce, or some broth, juice or water (about 1/2 cup or less). When your thickener is dissolved in liquid, carefully stir it into your sauce with a fork or whisk. This helps cook up a smooth sauce with no lumps.
Cornmeal: Made from ground corn, usually without the corn skin or germ and has a coarse texture. Cornmeal doesn’t contain gluten so it is generally used to make quick breads or breads with a cake-like texture. If you don’t have one cup of cornmeal substitute one cup of grits or polenta.
Cornmeal is sometimes called for in bread recipes for dusting a greased pan. Dusting a pan helps keep the bread from sticking to the pan. It also gives the bread crust an extra little crunch and a hint of flavor. If you don’t have cornmeal you can substitute corn flour, regular wheat flour or any other flour to keep bread from sticking. If you still want that crunchy texture try pulverizing some corn flakes instead. Or try using another thinly ground grain like steel cut oats or cracked wheat.
Johnny Cake: Johnny Cake or Journey Cake is a simple quick bread made with corn and water plus sugar. Hoecake technically, is a corn cake cooked over the fire on the back of a hoe (or shovel). The method still works – but don’t forget to grease your shovel first, or the hoecake will stick! Over the years we have added salt and leavening agents to our corn cake recipes for variations on the same corny theme. Here’s a great old-fashioned recipe for Corn Cake using molasses as a sweetener.
Molasses Corn Cake
1 cup corn meal
3⁄4 cup flour
3 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup molasses
3⁄4 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter (or margarine)
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add milk with molasses, egg well beaten, and butter. Bake in shallow buttered pan (roughly 9×9 or 8×8) in 425 degree oven for twenty minutes.
Easy Measuring Tip: The easiest way to measure the molasses for this recipe is to use the same measuring cup as the milk. First, pour the milk up to the 3/4 cup line. Then add the molasses until it measures 1 cup. If you still have room in the cup, add the egg and mix everything together before adding it to the dry ingredients. For more of Mom’s cooking tips and apron humor visit her on the web at http://www.MomsRetro.com. Good luck and happy cooking!