Nobody knows the power of sweet, homey comfort foods better than Christina Tosi, Milk Bar chef and author of Milk Bar Life. In this book, Tosi gives an intimate peek into her life and kitchen — and perhaps no chapter gets more personal than “Hand-Me-Downs,” in which the chef recalls the recipes passed down to her through the generations of her family.
“My favorite foods are the foods I was raised on. There’s nothing better than making hand-me-down recipes and serving them at my home,” Tosi says in the introduction. One such favorite is Tosi’s family recipe for Cornbake, a hybrid between corn bread and bread pudding that she says is “a staple in her family, a rite of passage.”
This simple, delicious recipe reflects the Midwestern food Tosi was raised on. “Nothing about food is fancy. It’s always delicious but there’s something about it that’s always very warm and homey and nurturing,” the chef says in this exclusive video clip.
Check out the video above to dive deeper into how Tosi’s upbringing influenced her path as a chef, and make your own Cornbake by checking out the recipe below.
Cornbake from Milk Bar Life
My family is not Southern enough to make cornbread. Instead, we make cornbake, a spoon-bread marriage of cornbread and corn pudding. This recipe has been handed every which way in my family (there are at least two copies in every household’s recipe Rolodex). It is the recipe I most often hand off to others. And it is implied with any invitation that I bring it as a side dish to any and all potlucks.
The old gals in my family make this recipe with more “supermarket” origins and will shout out the recipe when writing a shopping list (1 box Jiffy! 2 eggs! 1 tub sour cream! 2 cans corn! 2 sticks butter!). As much as I love that cornbake, these days I prefer cornbake made from scratch. This “from scratch” version is so good it has even fooled the old gals in a blind taste test.
Softened butter for the pan
11⁄3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (14.75-ounce) can creamed corn
1 cup fresh, frozen, or drained canned corn kernels
1⁄2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1⁄4 cup honey
2 tablespoons whole milk
1⁄2 teaspoon white vinegar
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan or a 9-inch baking pan.
2. Stir together the flour, cornmeal, both sugars, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the sour cream, creamed corn, corn kernels, butter, eggs, honey, milk, and vinegar in another bowl. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan before serving.
Recipes reprinted from MILK BAR LIFE: Recipes and Stories Copyright © 2015 by Christina Tosi. Photos by Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
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