Oh, hush puppies, where have you been all my life? Up until April this year, to me, hush puppies were just a brand of shoe. Then I visited Charleston, South Carolina. For the uninitiated amongst you, hush puppies are a little bit like cornmeal doughnut holes, a little bit savoury, a little bit sweet and normally served along side your main dish.
They are, however, deep-fried, which means there is no way I could justify eating them as often as my belly would like. That is why I have developed this recipe for a baked version, I think in my case gluttony is the mother of invention.
I think that the trend for cake pops must be waning by now as I picked up a cake pop pan for $2 at a thrift store, it’s not the kind of thing I would normally buy but it’s perfect for these and worked brilliantly. If you don’t have one, don’t despair, you could also use a mini muffin tin, although the results may not be as crispy.
These need to be really fluffy inside so I’ve used self-raising flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, which helps counteract the effects of the acidic buttermilk. If you can’t find buttermilk then add a squeeze of lemon juice to normal milk.
I’ve tried to keep the flavours of these as close as possible to the ones that I ate in Charleston but they’re very easy to modify; add a few tablespoons of chopped red pepper or coriander, a pinch of cinnamon or whisk some chipotle into the buttermilk. Play around until you find your favourite.
Makes 18 in a cake pop pan
85g self-raising flour
75g cornmeal or semolina
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
3 tbsp sweetcorn (tinned or frozen is fine)
3 tbsp finely diced white onion
35g butter (melted)
Pre-heat your oven to 220°c and thoroughly grease your chosen baking tin, I find spray vegetable oil best for this.
Whisk together all of the dry ingredients along with the sweetcorn and onion. Make sure it is well blended.
Lightly beat together the egg, melted butter and buttermilk and then stir this into the dry mixture using a whisk.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, if you are using a cake pop tin then fill the cavities of the lower half of the tin completely. They’ll puff up to fill the top half. Clamp on the lid and place it on a baking tray. If you are using a mini muffin tin then fill them to around 3/4.
Bake the hush puppies for about 17 minutes. Remove them from the tins as soon as you are able and pop them on a wire rack to cool a little, this will help to keep the outsides crispy.
These are really good served warm with chili, barbecued meats, spicy soups, fried or roasted seafood or simply with a dipping sauce.