Despite the fact that I have a strong allegiance to plain Southern-style cornbread smeared with a thick layer of butter, I quite like Bryant Terry's nutty, butter-free version in his new cookbook, Afro-Vegan. Chalk it up to the creative use of dukkah, one of my favorite spice blends. The pecan, sesame, cumin, and coriander blend makes the nut milk and creams used to make the batter feel right at home. Instead of tasting like substitutes, the almond, cashew, and flax ingredients echo the flavors of the dukkah, giving this bread a harmony that I rarely find in vegan quick breads.
Why I picked this recipe: Vegan baked goods, even things as forgiving as cornbread, always strike me as mysterious.
What worked: Incorporating dukkah into the bread was a smart move—it adds a fun, unusual element to the bread while at the same time harmonizing with the vegan milk and cream.
What didn't: I was not a huge fan of the orange zest; I thought it competed with the strong flavors of the corn and dukkah. I'd leave it out next time.
Suggested tweaks: If you want to make plain cornbread, you can leave out the dukkah. The bread will still retain a little nuttiness from the almond milk and creamed cashews. Terry is an advocate for unsweetened cornbread, but he says that you can add a tablespoon or two of raw cane sugar to the dry mix if you'd like.
Reprinted with permission from Afro-Vega: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 16 as a snack or 8 as a side
- Active time: 25 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes, plus time to soak and blend the cashew cream
- Pecan Dukkah
- 7 tablespoons finely chopped pecans, toasted
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
- 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup dukkah
- 2 tablespoons finely ground golden flaxseeds
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup Creamed Cashews
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for oiling
To make the dukkah: Put the pecans, sesame seeds, and salt in a small bowl. Combine the coriander and cumin seeds in a mortar and pound with a pestle until smashed but not finely ground. Add to the pecans and mix well. You will need 1/4 cup dukkah for this recipe. Save the rest for another use.
To make the cornbread: Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dukkah in a medium bowl and mix well. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flaxseeds and water and stir with a fork until well blended. Add the almond milk, cashew cream, vinegar, orange zest, and the 1/4 cup oil and whisk until well blended.
Oil a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, then put it in the oven. After the skillet has heated for 3 minutes, pour the almond milk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and mix gently just until the dry ingredients are moist; don’t overmix, or the texture of the cornbread will suffer. Remove the skillet from the oven and scrape the batter into it, spreading it in an even layer.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into even pieces and serve hot.