By Arritta Morris
The spoonbread festival has come and gone in Berea, but what a successful festival it was. The main attractions was, of course, the spoonbread.
How did this come in to our area anyhow?
Richard Hougen who was the hotel manager at Boone Tavern in Berea collected some of the best spoonbread recipes.
Spoonbread is the richest and lightest of all corn breads. This bread can be traced back to the 1800s when American Indian culture called it suppone or suppawn. Thus, the Indians are considered to be the true ancestral source of spoonbread.
In memory of Mr. Hougen, I have listed his recipe first with other varieties to follow. I do hope you try at least one of these.
Boone Tavern spoonbread
4 tbsp softened butter
3 cups milk
1 1/4 cups finely ground white cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine salt
2 eggs, well beaten
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with some of the soften butter. Cut out a parchment paper circle to fit inside the pan. Grease the paper with the remaining butter. Set the pan aside.
In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the milk to a boil, whisking occasionally, over high heat. While whisking, pour in the cornmeal in a steady stream. Whisk vigorously to incorporate the cornmeal, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to let the cornmeal mixture cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cornmeal mixture into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on medium speed unto mixed well, about 15 minutes.
Pour cornmeal batter into the greased cake pan and bake until golden brown and puffy. This takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Serve immediately
Note: When I made this, the secret is in the beating time. This I think helps the fluffy part of the bread
Boone Tavern was one of the first places my daughter worked for her student labor job. At that time, back in the 1980s, the students were not allowed to ask for tips. Well, being the actress that she turned out to be, she really pulled the wool over some of those poor customers’ eyes who came to the tavern during that period. She would make up some of the most “poor ol’ me” stories you can imagine. She even wore at one meal a pair of shoes with a hole in the sole. A guy one night tipped her $50.
I do believe now they allow tips to go to the student workers. I would like to apologize to any who may have been a victim of her “poor ol’ me” scam.
From the Mountains-Spoonbread
1 cup white corn meal (scant)
1 tsp salt
3 cups sweet milk (2 percent is fine)
2 tsp baking powder
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 egg whites, beaten
1 lump of butter
Beat egg whites and yolks in separate bowls. Set aside. Mix corn meal and 2 cups of milk. Cook until thick. Remove from heat. Add salt and butter. Slowly add 1 cup of milk while stirring. Add yolks. Stir in the baking powder. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in greased casserole at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
My favorite spoon bread recipe is the one that Bea Riley gave for the Berea Professional Women's cookbook.
Bea Riley’s Spoon bread
3 cups milk
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1 stick of butter
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Stir meal into boiling milk. Cook until thick. Add eggs (beaten), butter and baking powder and salt. Mix together and put into a buttered dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with a spoon. You can use white or yellow cornmeal. It is really good with small serving of butter.
Thanks Bea for making my cooking spoon bread so easy. I do beat this mixture for about 10 minutes before putting it in a dish to bake.
One of the best parts of the spoon bread festival was the lighted balloon event on Friday night. I got into one of those baskets one year and thought they were going to have to call the fire department to come and get me out. They are larger than they look from the ground level.
Arritta Morris is a graduate of EKU with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a master’s degree in counseling. She is certified as a food service specialist by the School Nutrition Association.