August 20, 2007
All freshly ground grains taste much better, and corn is no exception. The natural oils and vitamins are at their peak of perfection. Flavors normally lost in processing give a rich and full bodied aroma. This is how I make fresh cornbread, and bake it in a 'Crock-Pot' or slow cooker. For everyday convenience, I use an electric powered mill to grind the grains, and mix the dough. That takes less than a half hour. Once in the slow cooker, I won't need to check it again for about 3 hours, so I can be off doing something else. When I don't have the convenience of commercial electric power, I can use one of my hand cranked grain mills.
If you are in the market to buy a grain mill, do not order one with stone burrs for grinding corn. Many steel burr mills will not accept the large kernels of corn either. I have found on line companies selling mills claiming that they will grind corn, while the manufacturer clearly says they will not. Be sure to double check with the actual manufacturer.
Our flint corn is being made into corn bread here. The larger measuring cup has a pint of our whole corn. This will be ground first on the coarsest setting. I like 100% cornmeal bread, but most will consider it too heavy, at least until you get used to eating whole grains. The smaller cup has has one cup of rice, but you could use wheat instead. The mill attachment on the Kitchenaid mixer will be adjusted to a medium grind, and the coarsely ground corn and rice will be run through the mill again. After that, I set the mill to the finest adjustment, and grind the grain into a fine flour. I didn't actually time it, but I think it takes less than a minute to grind each cup of grain,on each pass. The process goes very quickly with an electric mill, about 15 minutes should be enough time for grinding 3 cups of grain. It took longer to gather the ingredients and set up, than to grind. For many years I ground grains with a hand mill, and it is easier and quicker to do 2 or three passes, rather than try to make fine flour out of whole grains in just one pass. Corn requires a mill with large steel burrs, not stone burrs. Many electric mills, and even some hand cranked ones will not grind whole corn, which is much larger than most grains. Our flint corn is being made into corn bread here....
Normally I adjust my recipes when I am cooking, depending on what I have on the shelf, and what I want. Cornbread will be mostly made of corn meal, but store bought corn breads are usually half wheat flour. This is because corn meal is gritty, and perhaps wheat flour is cheaper. One early Native American recipe uses equal amounts of dried squash or pumpkin with the corn meal. With fresh or canned pumpkin, I use about half as much as the dry corn meal. Applesauce works well in the same proportion too. Goat milk instead of hot water, and eggs can be used to enrich the bread into a more complete meal. In the recipe I made today, I simply added eggs and the rice, which I ground into flour, like the whole corn.
This is a close up of the large steel burrs of Kitchenaid mill attachment. It is easily disassembled for cleaning, with the small brush that came with it. I really like this unit, and it works very well with the smaller model K45SS Kitchenaid mixer we already had. Kitchenaid recommends the larger model mixers for this attachment,they have 'arms' to stabilize the mixing bowl. I also have a 'Family Grain Mill' attachment for this same mixer, but it will not grind corn. This same grinding unit is offered with it's own motor, a hand crank model, and a convertible version too. It is made in Germany by Messerschmidt. It does a fine job on small grains like spelt, rice, and wheat. It is an example of mills that some online sellers claim will grind corn, but the importer clearly says it will not. Unfortunately, it is not the only example of that I found. There are a number of different electric mills available, and Bosch makes a multipurpose kitchen machine. I don't have any experience with them, and I am satisfied with this much less expensive option for making flour with electric power. My favorite hand mill is the Porkert, but I have a Universal and a Corona, and they work too. This is a close up of the large steel burrs of Kitchenaid...
- 2 cups whole dry corn
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 3 eggs
- About 1.5 cups of warm water
Coarsely grind the corn first. Adjust the mill to a medium grind, and pass both the corn and rice through it. Set on fine, and put the grains through again. Add the eggs, and mix thoroughly. While beating, slowly add the warm water until a soft, but not quite liquid dough forms. Turn into a greased 1.5 quart Crock-Pot or slow cooker set on high heat. It will take nearly three hours to cook.