Cornbread Recipe for American Expats in Italy


Do you like my super yellow images? It’s not a style choice. If I were a real professional, I’d make everything rose-colored, like my point of view on life.

Ahem. Recipe.

First, do you have an oven? If you do and it’s electric, wait until after 6 or 7 at night, because operating the oven during the day costs a lot of money. Also, you only get to run one large appliance at a time, so don’t be running the electric oven, dishwasher, and washing machine at the same time.

In one large bowl, combine:

1 cup polenta corn meal

1 cup 00 flour

1 packet lievito (make sure it’s chemical leavener and not yeast. About 2 tsp baking powder)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda eyeballed from one of those tiny coffee spoons.

Yea, you brought a set of American measuring cups with you. Make sure the dry ingredients are super well-combined because as soon as you add liquid, you don’t want to stir too much.

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius with the convection fan on.

Next, preheat the cast iron pan that you also brought to Italy from the U.S. in your luggage with 2-3 tablespoons of bacon fat that you saved from when you made your husband and his friends some good ol’ American bacon cheeseburgers for dinner. If you don’t have bacon fat, use whatever oil you have on hand and keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t get smoky. Take it off the heat if you see whisps of smoke.

Now back to the bowl. Add:

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

3/4 cup nonfat yogurt (Yogurt has the same cultures as buttermilk, so whatevs.)

1/2 cup milk (Buttermilk here is called laticello. If you can find it, use 1 1/4 cup of laticello instead of the yogurt and milk.)

Stir until just combined and add it to the hot pan. It’s going to sputter, so be careful. Maybe turn off the heat, just in case.

When all the batter is in the pan, add it to the oven, keeping the door open for the minimum amount of time because electricity here costs a boatload. Let it cook for 10 minutes or so, until the top is brown. Then, turn off the heat and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, until it’s cooked all the way through. You want to milk every bit of that expensive heat energy that you can.

I’ve made this recipe a few times and it consistently turns out a delicious cornbread. Sometimes it can be a little dry, but whatever. As an American, you know that every cornbread is delicious if you add enough butter.