Cornbread is usually a supporting act, but this version is good enough to take centre stage at the dinner table and will probably end up being the dish around which you plan the meal. The corn that bejewels the surface is best just out of the oven when it’s a little crispy from the butter, and a little sticky from the maple syrup. That’s not to say you need to eat it all in one go; it will still be delicious the next day, heated up. To heat, either pan-fry, or place the slices on a tray in a cold oven, turn the temperature up to 150°C fan/170°C and warm for about 10 minutes. Serve with plenty of butter on the side.
Prep time: 20-25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes + cooling
140g unsalted butter, plus extra to serve
500g frozen corn kernels, defrosted and patted dry
150g Greek-style yoghurt
2 large eggs
1 Scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped (optional, see notes below)
1 spring onion, finely chopped
5g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
11⁄2 teaspoons medium curry powder
11⁄2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
100g quick-cook polenta
80g plain flour
1⁄2 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons maple syrup, plus extra to serve
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda flaked salt, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan/220°C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat for 5–6 minutes, stirring often until the butter foams and then turns a deep golden-brown. Add the corn and bubble away for 4 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
While the corn and butter mixture is cooling, put the yoghurt, eggs, Scotch bonnet, spring onion, ginger, curry powder, lime zest, polenta, flour, salt and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup into a food processor, but don’t blitz yet.
Once cool, set aside 140g of the corn and butter mixture in a small bowl to use later. Add the remaining corn and butter to the food processor, then add the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Pulse about 3–5 times, just until the mixture comes together. Don’t overmix, you want a textured batter with small chunks of corn, not a smooth batter.
Transfer the batter into the prepared tin, then spoon the reserved corn and butter evenly over the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, then evenly drizzle over the remaining 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and bake for another 15–20 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown on top.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes. If you have a blowtorch, use it to char the corn in places. Drizzle over some more maple syrup (I like a lot!), sprinkle with flaked salt and serve with a slab of butter alongside.
Ixta’s cooking is inspired by the Mexican, Brazilian and Italian flavours she grew up with, and her cookbook MEZCLA is a celebration of them all brought together. With simpler recipes for when you want something more quick and easy, alongside recipes to take your time over, each dish tells a story with its flavours, ingredients and method. Extracted from Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage (Ebury Press, £26) All photography by Yuki Sugiura
— cook’s notes
I use a whole Scotch bonnet, and its flavour and heat is quite dominant. I love that, but you can of course add less, removing the pith and seeds, or just add a pinch of regular chilli flakes for milder heat.