I am a real sucker for the January blues. It feels hard to be cheerful when it's cold, dark and Christmas is packed up for another year. Returning to the city after a few weeks away from my London life, I was surprised to feel something I haven't felt since I was thirteen and waving my parents off at boarding school - homesick.
I'm still quite new to the 'responsible adult' she-bang, and two weeks in the clutches of Mum's cooking, Radio 4 and zero emails was just enough to remind me of, dare I say it, a simpler time. Perhaps two weeks really was enough to begin my (inevitable) transformation into my mother.
Baking since I've been back in London has been the perfect distraction from the January blues. As soon as I'm in my kitchen, I feel back in touch with home, and totally wrapped up from anything I've been worrying about. If I haven't succeeded in coercing you to roll up your sleeves just yet, now might just be the perfect time to try something new.
This Cornbread is, deceptively, not a bread at all - you won't find any yeast or gluten here. It's quick, easy and the perfect first loaf for all you bread-virgins out there. It's gluten free too, and seeped in a deep south Americana which is thoroughly good for the soul.
17 January 2015
200g polenta (cornmeal)
30g dark brown sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 free range eggs
In a frying pan, toast the polenta until just browning and it smells buttery. Remove from the heat and combine with the buttermilk. Leave this to soak for an hour or so if you have time.
Preheat your oven to 220C. Mix the sugar, salt, baking powder and eggs into the polenta and buttermilk mixture. In a 20cm frying pan, melt the butter on a high heat until it is beginning to brown. Pour into the mixture, and beat quickly. Next, return the pan to the heat, and pour in all of the bread mixture. Allow to sizzle for a minute or so, then move to the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and risen.
Slice up and serve warm with chilli con carne, hot spicy soup, or just salted butter and honey.