Last Saturday, we were having soup for dinner and wanted a bit of a bread product to go along with it. Who doesn’t like something bread-y to dip into broth, right? But, we didn’t want to get the last chunk of bread out of the freezer, as that’s going to be used to make croutons for an upcoming dinner. This meant that, if we were going to have a bread, it’d have to be quick and fresh. We immediately thought of corn bread, but, before we committed, we did a quick look through Quick Breads, by Beatrice A. Ojakangas, and found this easy, fast, bread-like product (it’s not really a bread, so…).
As it turns out, we had almost everything all ready to go: corn meal, salt, egg whites (left over from something else), so all we needed to do was boil some water. Whew, that’s a tall order. So, if you can boil water, you can scratch up these corn puffs, too. Just follow along.
What’s to discuss other than the source of your eggs? While you might not notice that your eggs came from factory farms, the hens will, and possibly your neighbors (if they raise hens and you don’t support them). Well, the cream of tartar, we guess. It helps stabilize the egg whites, making it easier to avoid over-whipping them. We didn’t use any this time we whipped egg whites, but we often do.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment. If you have neither of those, you can generously grease the pans, but expect more cleanup effort later.
Mix dry ingredients. Stir together the cornmeal and salt in a medium-sized bowl. So far, an easy recipe, right? Well, it never really gets much more difficult, either.
Add boiling water. Here’s where a scale came in handy; we placed our bowl on the scale, tared it to set it to zero, boiled up some water in a teakettle, and poured until the scale read 120 grams. Of course, you can also pour the boiling water into a measuring cup. Stir the mixture into a mush-like consistency and let cool completely.
Whip egg whites. Put the egg whites into the (scrupulously clean) bowl of a stand mixer fitter with a whisk attachment and start beating on medium speed. Once the whites are foamy, add the cream of tartar, if using, and increase the speed to high. Continue whipping until the egg whites hold firm and glossy peaks, about 2 minutes.
Fold. Using a spatula, fold the egg whites into the corn mixture in three additions. Continue folding until no white streaks remain. This is the trickiest part, but it’s not even all that hard. Plus, folding in ingredients is an essential skill for everyone who bakes.
Spoon. Scoop the mixture out by tablespoonfuls and place on the prepared sheets. Or, if you want to be fancier, put the batter into a piping bag and pipe out dollops. We didn’t do that this time, but next time we’re going to try it. It should make the corn puffs look nicer. Either way, you should end up with about 24 puffs.
Bake. Slide the sheets into the oven and bake about 30 minutes, or until golden and crisp. For even baking, remember to rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through.
Serve immediately. These corn puffs are crisp right out of the oven and that crispness will fade as they cool, so dish them up right away and enjoy.
What a great little cornbread-like snack or side! These had a lot of corn flavor with a nice crisp exterior, and were light enough that you could just munch a bunch. We ended up eating all of them with our soup for dinner, and, while it seems as if a dozen corn puffs are a lot, remember they’re mostly air. Oh, but they’re tasty air. You can be sure that we’ll be making these little puffs again. An easy five stars.