Is there nothing aquafaba can’t do? In this series I will be exploring the almost suspicious versatility of this ingredient that is little more than the leftover liquid from a drained can of chickpeas. Fortunately for us someone diplomatically came up with the Latin translation “aquafaba” so we don’t have to go around talking about “bean water” which doesn’t sound nearly as elegant. Something about the protein-rich properties of this aquafaba means that it behaves in a very similar manner to egg whites — both in terms of its binding properties and its voluminous, air-trapping abilities. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for vegans and there are a zillion innovative recipes out there. I plan to both bring you original recipes and to test out those that are full of promise and promises, to see how far this bean water can take us.
Cornbread isn’t something I grew up eating, but I love it — in fact it’s up there amongst my favorite foods. Her, aquafaba is used to bind a vegan cornbread that’s perfect to soak up the sauce of a chili, or just eaten slice by warm slice from the oven. It took three goes to get this recipe down — the first cornbread was too light and cakey, the second was too dense and wet. As a New Zealander presenting you with a recipe for a quintessentially American dish, I knew I had to get it just right, and fortunately I could see what needed tweaking. Like Goldilocks with her porridge, the third one was perfect.
This cornbread is substantial but tender, golden and sweet, and wonderfully buttery. There’s a little gritty texture from the cornmeal, the coconut yoghurt and apple cider vinegar gives buttermilk tang, and the coconut oil and molasses provide richness and depth. Despite the ingredients it doesn’t taste a thing like coconut, or chickpea brine for that matter: just pure, golden deliciousness.
- 1½ cups plain flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal (also known as polenta, look for medium grind)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 5 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- ½ cup oat milk (or your preferred milk)
- 3 tablespoons plain coconut yogurt
- 3 tablespoons aquafaba (liquid from canned chickpeas)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Set your oven to 350F and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
- Stir the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Sieve the baking soda and baking powder into the bowl and stir to combine.
- In a small bowl or jug mix together all the remaining ingredients — the coconut oil will probably seize up a little as it combines with the milk and vinegar but don’t worry, this step is mostly to get all the wet ingredients in one place so you can mix them into the flour with minimal stirring.
- Pour the liquid ingredients into the centre of the flour mixture and fold together gently until just combined.
- Spatula this mixture into your prepared loaf tin and bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is firm and a skewer comes out clean.
- If you use coarse or fine cornmeal it will affect the texture but the recipe will still work. I don’t recommend using the very finely ground, powdery cornmeal known as corn flour.
- You can replace the molasses with maple syrup or your preferred syrup.
- Refined coconut oil is simply coconut oil with a neutral flavour. If you use unrefined coconut oil the finished cornbread will have a more pronounced coconut flavour.