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Bacon and marmalade cornbread from the Perfect Host recipe book. This mouthwatering bread makes for a yummy breakfast addition, served with plenty of butter.

From the book

Felicity Cloake


It would be remiss of me to conclude a chapter on breakfast with nary a mention of bacon, that most beloved of British breakfast stuffs. My general view is that bacon is best fried until crisp, then stuck in between two slices of soft, floury white bread with slightly more English mustard than is wise, but as everyone knows how to prepare that, I’ll concede it works pretty well in this American recipe too.

Cornbread has been eaten for millennia in the Americas – the corn tortillas of central America were a key part of the Mayan and Aztec diets, and European settlers were quick to develop a taste for corn pone, johnny cakes and other such unfamiliar delicacies. (According to Wikipedia, ‘the term “corn pone” is sometimes [wonderfully!] used to refer to one who possesses certain rural, unsophisticated peculiarities’.) These would traditionally have been prepared in a cast-iron skillet, which can go from stovetop to oven – if you don’t have an ovenproof pan, you can bake this in a cake tin instead, although you’ll miss out on some of that lovely bacon-y flavour.

Because one of my favourite foodie discoveries of the last couple of years has been the joy of bacon and marmalade sandwiches, I’ve added some chopped peel too, in homage to the northern American tradition of sweet cornbread, but you can leave it out if you don’t fancy it.

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20g lard or 1 tbsp oil
4 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, finely chopped
200g medium cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp soft brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
500ml buttermilk
2 tbsp chopped mixed peel

Essential kit

You will need: a small, ovenproof, heavy-based frying pan (about 20cm diameter).


Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7 before starting this dish. Heat the fat in a small, ovenproof, heavy-based frying pan (about 20cm diameter) until it sizzles, then add the bacon and cook until crisp.

Meanwhile, mix the cornmeal, baking powder salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk together the egg and buttermilk in a jug. Lift the bacon pieces out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, keeping the pan on the heat.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and stir together; then fold through the bacon pieces and chopped peel, followed by the bacon drippings from the pan.

Tip the batter into the hot pan and put into the hot oven for about 25 minutes, until golden on top. Let it sit for a few minutes before turning out. Serve cut into wedges, with plenty of butter.

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