In my previous post, I included a corn bread from Nova Scotia as part of my family’s Canadian Thanksgiving menu:
It had a complex combination of a coarse texture from cornmeal, some sweetness from sugar, and a distinctive herbal seasoning from summer savoury. It was received with mixed reviews; my husband thought it was a grisly concoction and simply hated it, while my daughter’s boyfriend said it could have some merit as a dessert; in my case, it made me think of the many types of Mexican corn breads.
In Mexico, the word maíz refers to the grain, so a bread made with nixtamalized corn flour (masa harina) or cornmeal, would be called pan de maíz. On the other hand, elote is the name used for fresh corn, either on the cob, or the corn kernels (granos de elote); some dishes made with fresh corn that come to mind are: fresh corn cake (pastel de elote), fresh corn bread (pan de elote), and fresh corn tamale (tamal de elote), to name just a few. These goods range from salty versions, some with pork or chicken, like the ones traditionally made in a clay pot (tamal de cazuela), to sweet confections with additions of wheat flour, and flavourings (cinnamon, vanilla, etc.); each one is unique in its own way, but their common denominator is that they rely on fresh corn kernels.
My favourite fresh corn bread is a sweet rendition, so moist and creamy from the fresh corn kernels, that tastes almost custardy (photo at the top of this post). The original recipe has no flour, but because fresh corn in Canada generally has a lower starch content compared to Mexican corn, I added some corn starch to prevent crumbling, and, as a bonus, the recipe remains gluten-free.
Fresh Corn Squares – Pastelitos de elote
4 ears fresh sweet corn
½ cup butter; melted, and at room temperature, plus a dab to grease pan
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup corn starch (the fine white powder, such as Maizena™)
1 tsp baking powder
Grease an 8×8-inch baking mould with a dab of butter, and reserve.
Remove and discard husks and silk from the corn, rinse ears, and drain. Hold one ear vertically with one hand over a tray or bowl, and shave a couple of rows of kernels with a sharp knife, starting at the top and moving the blade down, parallel to the cob. Turn ear and continue with the rest of the rows, then repeat with the other ears of corn (photo below, left). Discard cobs, and transfer corn kernels to a blender jar (photo below, right):
It should make around three and a half, to four cups of kernels. Reserve.
Measure and set up the rest of the ingredients:
Add melted butter, eggs, and sugar to the corn in the blender jar (photo below, left); pulse a few times (photo below, centre), then process at medium strength (photo below, right):
Continue for a few seconds, until uniform, allowing the sugar to dissolve, and the eggs to mix, but do not blend in excess, to preserve some of the texture of the corn kernels. Incorporate corn starch and baking powder into the mix, using a spatula (photo below, left). Pour mix into prepared baking mould (photo below, right):
Notice the texture of the batter (photo below, left). Place in the oven, pre-heated to 350°F (180ºC) for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Remove from oven an allow to cool down completely; the bread will not rise too much, and should turn a beautiful and bright golden colour ( photo below, right):
Allow to cool down completely before slicing into sixteen squares. Serve cold, or lightly toasted:
The crumb is highly textured from the fresh kernels, which provide a super moist bite:
The sweetness in these squares comes in part from the added sugar, but also from the natural sweetness of fresh corn.
When I was a kid, my dad used to do his banking on Saturday mornings, and one of my brothers and I would often tag alone; one of the bank branches was at a strip mall outside a supermarket, and next door, there was a really nice café. My dad would always order a cappuccino, and after our puerile request, he would order two pieces of fresh corn bread squares, for us kids. The coffee came to the table in a glass mug, of course, and I was always fascinated by the neat layers of coffee, milk and foam; the squares were delicious, and they called them “eloticos” at that particular café. I checked Google maps, and the bank is still there, but the spot where the café was, now houses a Subway Sub™ sandwich restaurant.
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #511, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.