Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today she’s mixing things up and talking about savoury baking. Plus, she shares her super easy, one-bowl Chilli and Cheddar Cornbread Recipe which is perfect with soups, stews and even salads.
Savoury Baking Flavours
When we think ‘baking’ we often automatically think of the sweet stuff…. cakes, biscuits, slices, tarts, cupcakes, muffins…things that are centered around sugar and sweet flavourings. But baking can also mean savoury. Think feta and herb muffins, mixed seed damper, leek and salmon tart, classic quiche Lorraine, Margarita pizza…the list goes on. The key to great savoury baking often lies in the ‘flavourings’ that you add. Here are my five favourites that will give your baking a deliciously savoury edge.
Onions – Brown, red (Spanish) and white onions and leeks are all are great additions to baking mixtures. I like to pan-fry or roast them to not only mellow their flavour but also to soften them first before using. Caramelized onions add a depth of flavor to tarts, quiches, pizzas and quick breads. Green shallots, with their less ‘harsh’ flavour can be chopped or sliced and added raw – they team well with eggs and cheese mixtures.
Cheese – My favourites to use in savoury baking are ‘vintage’ and ‘extra tasty’ cheddar, Parmesan, feta, goat’s and blue-vein. All these cheeses have strong flavours and therefore are able to add a good distinctive ‘punch’ or ‘bite’ by only adding a relatively small amount.
Herbs – I find that ‘soft’ herbs such as parsley, basil, chives and dill work best in baking as opposed to the stronger, more earthy-flavoured ones such as rosemary and thyme (although don’t discount these ones, just use them in moderation). They add a subtle flavor and play the support roll to the ‘hero’ ingredients.
Spices – Ground spices are best added with careful consideration in baking. Choose those that will complement other ingredients in your mixture (such as chilli with polenta, or cumin with roasted vegetables) and don’t over do it. Often a teaspoon or two is plenty. A little salt added with the spices will bring our their flavor.
Bacon, prosciutto and pancetta – The saltiness and strong flavor of these cured meats is what makes them great ingredient to add flavour to savoury baking. I often pan-fry them first until crisp and golden before adding them to mixtures.
Here is a very savoury cornbread for you to make – one that uses many of the flavourings mentioned above and will fill your kitchen with an irresistible aroma as it bakes. What’s your favourite ‘savoury’ flavouring you like use in your baking?
Chilli and Cheddar Cornbread Recipe
This ‘quick bread’ is a perfect accompaniment for soups, stews and salads. It’s a super easy, one-bowl mix that is delicious served warm on its own or spread with lashings of butter. It is particularly good when cut into thick slices and toasted.
Preparation time: 15 minutes (+5 minutes standing time)
Baking time: 30 minutes
What You’ll Need:
- Melted butter, to grease
- 150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
- 190g (1 cup) polenta
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 125g vintage or extra tasty cheddar, finely shredded (see Baker’s Tips)
- 5 green shallots, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 310ml (11⁄4 cups) buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 125g butter, melted and cooled
What You Do:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20cm round cake tin with melted butter and then line the base with a round of baking paper.
2. Combine the flour, polenta, chilli flakes and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine evenly. Stir through 100g of the grated cheddar and the shallots.
3. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg to combine and then whisk in the butter. Add to the dry ingredients and use a large metal spoon or spatula to stir until just combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and then smooth the surface with the back of a metal tablespoon. Sprinkle with the remaining cheddar.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Stand the cornbread in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature cut into slices.
- You can replace 40g of the cheddar with 40g finely shredded parmesan.
- You can also cook this cornbread in a 20cm square cake tin.
- This cornbread is best eaten the day it is made.
- To freeze, either whole or cut into wedges or slices, wrap well in plastic wrap and then seal in an airtight container or freezer bag. Label, date and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.