When things aren’t quite right, I bake. When work is spiraling out of control at high speed and my personal life is stuck in neutral, I bake. When winter is too long and the sun is too absent and I’m feeling too restless, I bake. When my house is out of order and life feels a little unsettled and I feel like I’m waiting for some undefined something to put things back in place, I bake. There is nothing more soothing or calming in my world.
I think it’s something about the measuring and the stirring and the magical way a few ingredients come together to make a complete whole. The smell and the batter and the bowl-licking. I still remember measuring flour from the huge bin that my mum used to keep. Maybe its that. Maybe it reminds me of less-stressful times; I’m not really sure. But regardless, I bake a lot when I’m feeling low or just….off.
I’ve been feeling a bit like that lately. I’ll blame March, my least favorite of months, for the funk and the melancholy. I’ve had this bread on my radar since Joy the Baker posted it a while back and this past weekend, it seemed just the thing to raise my spirits. Homey and simple, with a bizarrely small list of ingredients and requiring no appliances, it fit my mood perfectly; not too flashy, not too indulgent, just satisfying and warm.
Quickbreads are among my favorite things to bake. They’re easy to make, difficult to ruin and infinitely adaptable. This one has only six ingredients. It’s dense, moist and barely sweet, reminiscent of bran muffins, but containing no bran. The cornmeal adds a lovely crunch to the lid and that slightly funky, pungent, cornmeal flavor. In all, the finished product is like a cross between a corn bread and a bran muffin. I’ve been eating it for breakfast, warmed, smeared with butter and drizzled with honey. If that’s not soothing, I don’t know what is. Did it fix my funk? Well, no; I think it’ may take April to do that. But it did momentarily waylay my funk and bring a smile to my face…as did my new little kitchen toy, who will help me bake and sooth my nerves from now on.
Molasses Cornmeal Bread
From Joy the Baker. Makes one loaf.
I can see adding nuts, raisins, cranberries or anything else that you could find in a good bran muffin. My batter was thicker than Joy’s—I’m not sure why—but it turned out fine regardless. I rather liked my more craggily top.
1 2/3 c buttermilk
1/2 c molasses
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/2 c molasses
- Heat oven to 325°F. Grease a standard loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk and molasses
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until well combined. Batter will be real thick.
- Spread in loaf pan and bake for ~40 min or until tester comes out clean
- Cool in pan for 20 minutes