THE CORNBREAD LAB MANUAL
What is cornmeal
Cornmeal is ground up dried field or dent corn. It’s the same stuff we feed livestock and it’s the most widely used grain in the Western Hemisphere. The finer grinds are used for baking, the coarser grinds become polenta and grits. In the American South, finely ground cornmeal used for baking is traditionally called meal.
Cornbread is a quick bread that comes in all shapes and sizes. Cornbread can be made with just cornmeal and water, or with added eggs, milk, sugar, and wheat flour. It all depends on what style you like or need at the time. Alter the proportions of these few ingredients a little and you wind up with all kinds of delicious styles of cornbread.
Whole-grain cornmeal vs. de-germinated cornmeal
Corn kernels consist of three parts—the oil and vitamin-rich germ, the fibrous hull, and the starchy endosperm. Whole grain contains all three parts, de-germinated contains only the endosperm. Whole-grain cornmeal has a richer, fuller flavor and a much greater nutritional value. However, because of the high oil content it turns rancid quickly. If your cornmeal smells off or tastes bitter, throw it away! Keep your whole-grain cornmeal in the freezer for longer shelf life.
Most cornmeal products available in the supermarket are de-germinated simply because it allows them a longer shelf life. De-germinating the cornmeal does diminish the nutritional value and flavor, but it provided a way for folks to store the milled grains longer.
Whole-grain cornmeal is not always easy to find. You’ll have to look hard to find grist mills that still mill corn the old fashioned way. Good luck with that. All our links broke to the ones we knew so google it!
White vs. Yellow Cornmeal
Nashville is in the white cornmeal belt. Generally speaking, Southerners prefer cornbread made with white cornmeal while those in the West, Midwest, and East prefer yellow cornmeal. The exception is Rhode Island where the native white corn Johnny cakes, the Yankee cousin of hot water hoecakes, rule.
Either way, white and yellow cornmeal is interchangeable and basically a regional and personal preference, like white and brown eggs. Historically, our preferences are related to corn grown in our particular region. Cornmeal does contain beta-carotene that the body converts to vitamin A. The more yellow the corn, the more beta-carotene. But, don’t get hung up on color, buy what you like.
Ground corn varies by the size of the grind. Southern cornmeals are usually very finely ground which results in lighter, less gritty baked goods. The course ground cornmeal products are better for applications like mush, polenta, and grits. It’s all the same corn, just a different grind or size.
Self-Rising Cornmeal Meal and Self-Rising Cornmeal Mix
Just like self-rising flour for biscuits, these popular southern cornbread products are perfect combinations of cornmeal, (a little flour in the self-rising cornmeal mix) leavening, and salt. Once the products of many small mills throughout the South, today’s fewer regional brands include Martha White, White Lily, Dixie Lily, and Weisenberger. Many of the companies produce a buttermilk self-rising cornmeal mix that contains dried buttermilk.
Generations ago, the modern conveniences of self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal mix changed the way southerners bake. In the rural South, biscuits and cornbread were baked every day and ready-to-go blends eased the burden on the home cook with consistent, timesaving results. It’s easy to overlook these products today as they compete for shelf space with specific mixes for biscuits, muffins, cornbreads, pancakes, and other quick breads. With bags of self-rising flour and cornmeal, you can eliminate the rest.
Nashville is the hometown of the Martha White brand, the southern baking company that made self-rising products famous through their sponsorship of the live broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry on WSM radio, the 5:45 a.m. Biscuit and Cornbread Time Radio show, and Bluegrass legends Flatt and Scruggs.
To turn plain cornmeal into self-rising cornmeal, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of cornmeal.
Rhode Island Johnny (Johnny or Journey) cakes
Traditional white corn Johnny cakes from Rhode Island are an important part of this story because, for the immigrant Europeans, here is where cornmeal became a critical part of the diet. Indians had the corn and the pilgrims were starving! Cornmeal and cornbreads have been keeping all the peoples of America nourished long before the arrival of the Europeans.
Interestingly, Johnny cakes are very similar to southern hot water hoecakes and are even traditionally made with white corn. Rhode Island is the home of a special variety of flint corn that grows well in colder climates. You can purchase Rhode Island cornmeal products and read all about it by visiting these websites www.kenyonsgristmill.com and www.graysgristmill.com.
It’s all about the crust
In our opinion, the best cornbread crust comes out of a well-seasoned black iron skillet preheated with bacon drippings or oil. When the loose, pourable batter hits the pan, POW! It sizzles.
How to serve a skillet of cornbread
As soon as the skillet comes out of the oven, flip the cornbread out of the pan onto a cutting board and serve it crust side up. Show off that beautiful crust! If you leave it in the pan condensation will build up and turn your crust wet. And slicing the bread in the pan will dull your knife. Whatever you do, invest in a good cast-iron skillet. It will bring your family generations of top-notch cornbread.
How to season a cast-iron skillet
As Billie Hill, the former customer service gal at Lodge Cast Iron of South Pittsburg, TN, loved to say, “just fry a lot of bacon!”
Why is your cornbread dry and crumbly?
Here is the single most important part of Cornbread Lab: Good cornbread comes down to good batter. The batter MUST be creamy and pourable. If your batter is thick and dense, add more liquid, no matter what the recipe says, because you want the batter to slide to the edges of the pan with ease. Cornmeal absorbs quite a lot of liquid and must hydrate to be moist. Even a shot of water can loosen things up. Anyone who doesn’t like cornbread must have grown up choking down dry crumbly cornbread made with a dry batter.
The balance of outside crust-to-moist insides
For us, the finest cornbread is an inch thick and a mile wide. Most two-cup recipes baked in an 8 or 10-inch skillet are just too tall, denying the cornbread of its rightful ratio of crust. We use about 1 1/2 cups of cornmeal mix for a 12-inch skillet and only about a cup for a 10-inch skillet.
This ingredient is the issue that divides cornbread into camps. The most common recipes outside of the South contain a heavy dose of sweetness. Southern skillet cornbread, however, uses very little sugar (or none at all). It’s a matter of taste. The little blue boxes of Jiffy, the best selling cornbread mix on the market, have influenced the cornbread standard in the modern era just like Heinz has defined ketchup. Jiffy is the ramen noodle of cornbread.
Yes, a little flour in a cornbread recipe helps the cornmeal hang together better, which is why the bestselling self-rising cornmeal mixes contain some flour. Yankee cornbread typically contains at least 50 percent flour and plenty of sugar. Jiffy, the most common cornbread muffin mix contains more than 50 percent wheat flour.
National Cornbread Festival and National Cornbread Cook-Off
This fun festival is held every year on the last weekend in April in South Pittsburg, TN., the hometown of Lodge Cast Iron. It’s a picturesque little valley town on the banks of the Tennessee River between Sewanee and Chattanooga.
Your basic cornbread batter can be used to make cornbread waffles, muffins, sticks, etc.
What kind of cornbread should I serve with barbecue?
There are two traditional accompaniments to our native pulled pork. Middle Tennessee is the home of Corn Light Bread, a very sweet cornbread loaf. Why sweet cornbread with barbecue? Our guess is that sweet-sauced barbecue calls for a sweeter bread, just like the customary pairing of a sweet wine with dessert. The other traditional cornbread accompaniment is corncakes, usually not sweetened. Pile the smoky pulled pork right on top.
Cornbread reheats well in the toaster oven and makes a great snack. Otherwise, keep a big plastic bag in the freezer and add your leftover cornbread and biscuits to it and you’ll be ready to make cornbread dressing or salad anytime. Another great staple to keep in your freezer is a bag of cornbread crumbs to use for topping casseroles and vegetable dishes. Crumble up your leftover cornbread and drizzle on the olive oil until it is slightly moist. With the oil already conveniently added, the crumb topping will crisp up and brown nicely in the oven. Keep it in a bag in the freezer.
Cornbread batter on a casserole
Yes, a great idea. Top chicken casseroles, chili, beans, barbecue, or your favorite casserole with a layer of cornbread batter. The easiest way to be sure that the cornbread will bake evenly over a casserole and not be undercooked where it meets the filling is to be sure that the filling is hot before adding the cornbread batter.
How to incorporate cornmeal into your own baking
Cornmeal is gritty so only add it to recipes where a little texture sounds pleasing to you. We’ve had good results substituting a portion of the flour with cornmeal in recipes like sugar cookies, pancakes, and even pound cake. A good rule of thumb is to not replace more than 1/3 of the recipe’s flour with cornmeal.
Cornbread Lab Recipes
Southern Skillet Cornbread
Don’t be alarmed that we gave a big range for the amount of cornmeal. You need to make as much as you need to make a nice thin disc. Directions for using plain cornmeal and flour are below. Or, if using self-rising cornmeal, the recipe contains no flour at all. And yes, you can omit the egg. The inside will be dense and moist.
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup vegetable oil, bacon drippings or melted butter
1 to 2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix or self-rising cornmeal
Enough buttermilk or sweet milk, plus a shot of water to make a creamy pourable batter
Heat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 9, 10 or 12-inch cast-iron skillet and place in the oven to get it good and hot. Combine egg and oil in a medium mixing bowl and blend well. Stir in the cornmeal mix and milk until smooth and creamy. The batter should be pourable like pancake batter. If it seems a little thick, add a little more milk or water. Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake until the crust is golden brown. The 9-inch skillet will take about 20 to 25 minutes to bake if you used 2 cups of cornmeal, the large skillet will take about 15 to 18 minutes to bake and the medium skillet will take somewhere in between. Makes about 8 servings.
Note: If using plain cornmeal, combine 1 3/4 cups plain white or yellow cornmeal blended with 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
1 cup of shredded cheddar or Jack cheese
1/2 cup crumbled bacon, pork cracklings, or diced country ham
1 cup crumbled cooked sausage
1 small can or two of chopped green chilies or ½ cup chopped roasted and peeled green chiles
A small can of cream-style corn, decrease the liquid, but keep the batter creamy and pourable.
1/2 cup sautéed onions and diced green bell peppers
¼ cup sugar
Hot Water Hoecakes
Both the hot water hoecakes and the Johnny cakes rely on boiling water to “cook” the cornmeal before pan-frying. The result is a creamy interior and a very crisp exterior. Notice recipes like this often call for self-rising cornmeal. This is because it is the most popular product in the South and what most folks have on hand. The leavening is killed by the boiling water and has no effect on the hoecakes. The salt is already added so you don’t need to add any.
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix, self-rising cornmeal, or plain cornmeal
About 1¾ cups boiling water
Oil for frying
Place the cornmeal in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly pour the water over the cornmeal and beat with a wooden spoon until thick and creamy. Add a little additional water if the batter seems too thick. Heat about ¼ inch vegetable oil in a skillet until hot over medium-high heat. Drop the cornbread batter by heaping spoonfuls into the hot oil and flatten slightly with the spoon. Cook until browned on the underside, turn with a spatula and continue to cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve warm. Makes about 8.
Note: Add ½ teaspoon of salt if using plain cornmeal.
Rhode Island Johnny Cakes (Kenyon Mills recipe)
Of course, there are many variations on these, just like the cornbreads in the South. This recipe usually does contain a little bit of sugar, but not enough to make it sweet. These are typically eaten with lots of butter.
1 cup Rhode Island white cornmeal
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine the cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and beat well with a wooden spoon. The batter should be thick, but moist. If it seems too dry, add a little more water. Drop by tablespoonfuls in a well-greased hot skillet. Keep the heat on about medium-high. Do no touch or turn for 6 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for about 5 minutes. Makes about 8 to 10.
For thinner Johnny Cakes add about ½ cup additional water or milk.
Cornbread Barrel Bungs (mini corn muffins recipe from our Jack Daniel’s Cookbook)
Pop a tray of these into the oven at the hour your party “starts” and they’ll be ready when your first guests walk through the door. A great cocktail hour snack or after school/work bite to keep everybody going until dinner. They rewarm in a toaster oven nicely.
¾ cup self-rising cornmeal mix
¾ cup buttermilk or about ½ cup sweet milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese.
Heat the oven to 450°F. Grease 24 mini muffin cups. Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. The batter should be creamy and pourable. If it seems too thick, add a splash of water. Using a teaspoon spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups. You should have just enough batter to fill all 24 cups about half full. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the pan on a wire rack about 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 24 muffins.
Variation: Add ½ cup cooked and crumbled pork sausage, or finely diced smoked sausage to the batter and bake as directed above. You can also vary the cheese. Jack and cheddar are both delicious.
Made with an eggy, very thin batter, cornbread crepes can wrap up just about anything that a tortilla or traditional crepe can. Fill them with omelet toppings, with pulled pork barbecue, creamed chicken, or vegetable stews.
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
Whisk the eggs and milk together in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in the oil and cornmeal and mix until smooth. Let the batter sit for about 15 minutes. Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom with oil or non-stick cooking spray. Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter to the skillet. Immediately swirl the skillet to completely coat the bottom with the batter. Cook until the bottom side is golden brown and the top looks set and not wet. Loosen the edge with a rubber spatula and flip out onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Makes about 6 crepes.
Corn Light Bread
Corn Light Bread, a favorite barbecue side in Middle Tennessee, breaks all the southern cornbread rules. It’s made with flour and sugar and it’s baked in a loaf pan. Judging by how most of the country prefers sweet cornbread, this may be the one that tastes the most like home.
2 cups self-rising cornmeal
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Heat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan. Stir together the cornmeal and flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, buttermilk, and vegetable oil. Stir until well blended. The batter should be thick, but creamy and pourable. If the batter seems too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool the bread for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan. Remove the cornbread from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Store tightly wrapped in aluminum foil. Makes 1 loaf, about 12 servings.
Note: Stir in 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 ½ teaspoons salt into the dry ingredients if using all-purpose flour and plain cornmeal. You can also bake this in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake at 400 F 30 minutes or until well browned around the edges and lightly browned on top.
Now here’s a recipe with a fantastic ratio of cornbread crust to soft insides. Try these topped with chili, barbecue, creamed chicken, creamy mushrooms and vegetables, or any kind of thick stew that could use a crisp sturdy base.
1 egg, optional
1/4 cup oil (or a mixture of oil and bacon drippings)
1 cup of milk or buttermilk, plus enough water to make a pourable batter
2 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or cooked sausage, optional
Heat up the waffle iron and spray generously with non-stick cooking spray. Break the egg in a medium mixing bowl, if using. Stir in the oil and the milk until well blended. Stir in the cornmeal mix, adding enough water to make a nice creamy, pourable batter. Feel free to stir in other ingredients like a cup of shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled cooked bacon or sausage, chopped green chilies, corn kernels, bits of red bell pepper, or some cracked black pepper. Spoon the batter over a hot waffle iron spreading it out gently. Cook until dark golden brown. Makes 8 squares (two big waffles) in a typical waffle iron.
Spoonbread with Parmesan and Black Pepper
Spoonbread is like a fancy cornbread soufflé and another excellent example of how altering the proportions of the same simple cornbread ingredients can produce such dramatically different results. This is a great recipe for entertaining. Serve it with all kinds of simply grilled meats and a salad.
3 cups milk
1 ½ cups self-rising cornmeal or self-rising cornmeal mix
¼ cup butter
5 eggs, separated
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Black pepper, to taste (about ½ teaspoon)
Heat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 2-quart casserole or soufflé dish. Bring the milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually stir in the cornmeal mix. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is very thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stir until it is melted. Allow to cool slightly. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. Stir in a little of the cornmeal mixture to temper the eggs. Stir the eggs, cheese, and pepper into the cornmeal mixture. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish. Bake about 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm. Makes about 8 servings.
This cornbread is the easiest make-ahead cornbread for a crowd. Dense and moist with cheddar cheese, cream-style corn, and buttermilk, it can be baked in advance and cut into neat squares. Unlike traditional skillet cornbread that’s best eaten hot out of the oven, Loaded Cornbread travels well and tastes fine at room temperature. This Texas-style cornbread became popular with greater availability of grocery items and canned goods during the casserole era. Again, if the batter seems too thick, always add a little water.
One 14.75-ounce can cream-style corn
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or about 1 ¼ cups regular milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 fresh jalapenos, seeded and diced
Heat the oven to 400° F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Stir together the cream-style corn, egg, buttermilk, and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well blended. Fold in the cheese and the jalapenos. Bake about 35 minutes until golden brown. Makes 16 servings
Note: Substitute 3 cups self-rising cornmeal mix for the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Good Old Broccoli Cottage Cheese Cornbread
There are about a million variations of this classic old cornbread that usually starts with a sweet Jiffy mix. It’s another good example of turning cornbread into a “casserole.”
¼ cup (1/2 a stick) butter (you can use a whole stick if you want it richer)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cottage cheese
1 10-ounce package chopped broccoli, thawed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
1 box (8.5 ounces) Jiffy corn muffin mix
Heat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 11 x 7-inch baking dish or a 9 or 10-inch skillet. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion in the butter until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Combine the eggs, cottage cheese, broccoli, and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Add the buttery onions and cornbread mix. Stir until smooth. Pour into the baking dish. Bake about 40 minutes or until set and golden brown. Makes about 8 servings.
Blueberry Ricotta Cornmeal Pancakes
This fantastic recipe one has a 1 to 3 ratio of cornmeal to flour. The cornmeal gives it a nice texture, while the flour is the dominant grain. It’s a fancy pancake recipe that features old self-rising products in a modern style
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 to 1 cup milk
Zest from one lemon, optional
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Beat the egg with the oil and ricotta cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Add the flour, cornmeal, and sugar. Stir in 3/4 cup of the milk, adding more as necessary for a creamy pourable batter. Stir in the optional lemon zest. Stir in the blueberries. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon the batter onto a hot greased griddle. Cook on the first side until the edges look dry and the top is bubbly. Flip and brown on the other side. Makes about 12 pancakes.
Classic Cornbread Dressing
Cornbread dressing is a blank canvas so change it up to match the theme of the menu. See below for variations; however, we think you can’t beat the straight-up version, especially with a Thanksgiving meal with lots of different side dishes.
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/2 sticks butter
About 5 to 6 cups crumbled cornbread (cornbread from a skillet of cornbread made with 2 cups cornmeal mix)
About 3 cups stale, toasted, or fresh bread cubes (regular bread helps hold the dressing together and gives it a softer texture)
A handful of fresh chopped parsley
Other herbs as you like–fresh chopped sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary (or use any combination of dried herbs – about 1 teaspoon each rubbed sage, marjoram, thyme, rosemary)
Generous amount of black pepper
3 to 4 cups chicken or turkey broth, homemade or canned
2 eggs, beaten
Melt 1 stick of the butter in a large skillet. Cook the onions and celery in the butter over medium heat until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Combine the crumbled cornbread and bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the cooked vegetables, parsley, herbs, and black pepper. Blend well.
Stir in the broth and eggs. Add enough broth so that the mixture is moist, but not soupy. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter. Pour the dressing into the prepared dish. Dot with the remaining butter.
Bake the dressing right away or cover and refrigerate it overnight and cook it the next day. Cover lightly with foil and bake in a 375°F oven. Baking time will vary (if baked right away it should take about 45 minutes, out of the refrigerator closer to an hour). Remove the foil during the last 15 minutes for a nice crispy brown top. To be sure that the dressing is cooked through, check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. It should read at least 165°F. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave or oven. Or, crisp it up in a skillet.
Add any of the following ingredients to the cornbread mixture:
Southwestern. Add chopped green chilies and a can of hominy. Omit the herbs. Serve with a grilled flank steak.
Italian Add a pound of cooked and crumbled Italian sausage. Add some rosemary, red bell pepper and pine nuts.
Sausage, Apple, Pecan. Add a finely chopped apple, 1 pound of cooked and crumbled sausage and 1 cup of toasted pecans to the mix.
Leek and Country Ham. Use leeks instead of the onions and add bits of country ham.
Clams or Oysters. Add fresh chopped clams or oysters to the mix and a sautéed green bell pepper.
Cajun. Add chopped cooked Andouille sausage and sautéed red and/or green bell peppers.
Mushrooms. Saute 12 ounces chopped mushrooms with the onions and celery.
Dried fruits. Add apples, chopped dried apricots, raisins, or cranberries for a nice sweetness.
Tennessee Tomato White Bean Cornbread Salad
Beyond dressing, here’s another great way to put leftover cornbread to good use. The beauty of a cornbread salad is that it is sturdy enough to handle juicy tomatoes and creamy dressing. This one combines two Tennessee favorites—tomatoes and white beans.
4 cups crumbled cornbread
3 cups diced ripe tomatoes (use any combination of colors and sizes)
1 can (15.5 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup sliced celery
½ cup sliced green onions
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste with a little salt
Generous amount of black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, toss to blend. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Toss the dressing with the salad just before serving or serve on the side. Makes 10 servings.
Mindy’s Nashville Cornmeal Cookies
Everyone loves these buttery cookies that have just enough cornmeal texture to get people asking why they are so wonderfully crunchy, but not gritty! And guess what, here are the same cornbread ingredients in different proportions as a cookie!
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest from 1 lemon (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
1 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 375 F. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and lemon zest, if using. Decrease the mixer speed to low and blend in the flour, cornmeal mix, and the salt just until well blended. Using a small scoop or two teaspoons, scoop balls of dough, about 1-inch in diameter, and roll the balls in a shallow bowl of sugar. Place the balls on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Flatten slightly with your fingers. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
© Cheater Chef 2013