If you haven’t spent at least part of your life living in the South you probably don’t even know what Spoonbread is. But here in Berea, not only do we know what it is, we build a whole weekend celebration around this Southern dish. And people come from miles around just to get a taste of the famous Berea Spoonbread – some from as far away as Canada!
Watch the video at the end of this article to see some of the reactions to Spoonbread.
Just what the heck IS Spoonbread? It’s a cross between cornbread and a light, airy souffle. You wouldn’t think that Southern folks, who are more well known for their sensible, rib-sticking meals than they are French-style cooking, would have an interest in mixing up a corn souffle. After all, some of the most famous chefs in the world have a hard time making a souffle. But believe me – Spoonbread is well worth the effort.
No one knows for sure who cooked up the first batch of Spoonbread, or where it originated, but one thing’s for certain – it’s definitely a staple on Berea dinner tables. And it’s the house specialty at the Boone Tavern – every diner gets a fresh, hot serving of Spoonbread before they even get their menu!
Some spoonbread recipes call for yellow cornmeal, some for white. Some call for heavy cream, some for whole milk and some for 2% milk. Some use just a pinch of salt, some use a tablespoon of sugar and some call for chopped peppers, some mix for 3 minutes and some for 15. But they all have two things in common: eggs and real butter – NOT margarine!
While there are almost as many Spoonbread recipes as there are cooks in Berea, the Spoonbread being served at the festival was some of the tastiest ever. Prepared by Nola Newman and friends, and dished up piping hot with plenty of butter and honey on the side, you’d be hard pressed to find a better tasting batch of spoonbread anywhere in Madison County.
Here’s the recipe that Nola and her gang used for the 2010 Berea Spoonbread Festival:
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup plain cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Scald the milk, stir in cornmeal, and bring JUST to a boil, making mush.
- Remove from heat; stir in butter until melted
- Beat eggs (to a froth) with salt and baking powder
- Add to cornmeal mixture
- Beat with hand mixer for 2-4 minutes
- Pour into a pre-heated, buttered baking dish
- Bake at 350 degrees, 30-45 minutes or until nicely browned and puffy.
Best when served immediately with butter, honey or sorghum on top.