Growing up in Brazil, we often had homemade treats like cakes, bread, pies, cookies, preserves, and many other sweet or savoury options handy. Besides making appearances at breakfast and for snacks, another traditional time of the day for Brazilians to have these treats is for the “afternoon coffee”, a light meal between lunch and dinner that usually includes coffee but could also offer tea, hot cocoa, milk, juice, etc.
My mom is a great home cook and I started my adventures in the kitchen learning from her. She took culinary courses, didn’t shy away from long recipes and elaborated dishes, and loved to entertain. Another influence on my cooking was my paternal grandmother, who was raised on a farm but later lived in the same city as we did and I was able to be around her a lot until I moved to Canada in my 20’s. While her food was very rustic – she never seemed to measure anything and cooked from memory – she always had something yummy in the oven or on the stove. She remembered our favourites and called us to come over when she made them, and certain homey aromas and flavours still take me back to her kitchen.
One of these familiar flavours of my childhood is a simple Brazilian-style cornbread. It is sweeter than the cornbread I’ve had in the southern USA, and instead of a side dish for savoury meals, is a great “coffee cake”= or a cake that goes well with coffee (served still warm with butter takes it over the top)!
The recipe below is a homage to my grandma’s country roots and her warm kitchen, but with measurements and instructions that would satisfy my mom as well. 🙂 I also love that everything is mixed in a blender, taking only a few minutes of prep before baking, and the sweet cornmeal batter smell amazing while baking! It is so quick and easy, it’s a great option to serve to impromptu guests, a lazy weekend brunch or “afternoon coffee”.
Brazilian-style Cornbread with Coconut
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (or vegetable oil)
- 1 cup milk (non-dairy or regular)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Heaping 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/3 cup unsweetened medium dried coconut
- 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
- Pre-heat oven to 390F (200C). Grease a small round (9 in or 23 cm) or square baking pan with cooking spray.
- In a blender, combine first the eggs, sugar, oil, milk and salt until well incorporated. Add flour and cornmeal and blend until smooth.
- Add coconut and pulse to combine. Lastly, add baking powder pulsing just enough to mix.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden around the edges. Poke with fork or toothpick to make sure it’s cooked in the centre.
Note: Batter can also be baked in a seasoned cast iron skillet that was heated inside the oven during the pre-heating. Carefully take the skillet out, melt a 1/2 Tbsp of butter in it and pour the batter immediately. Place back in the oven. Cornbread will probably cook faster with this method (about 18-20 minutes).
Note 2: A variation of this cornbread is to make it with 1/2 cup grated parmesan instead of coconut. The cheese adds a hint of salt and a bit more moisture, making for a very satisfying treat as well.