Ugly Cornbread, a cornerstone of the Fortuna’s Row brunch menu, was inspired by a bite executive chef Mikko Tamarra ate during his travels in Mexico. Pastry chef Teisha Huff got her hands on the recipe, but, once she tried making it, regional ingredient differences left her with an irresistibly tasty, yet crumbled and ugly mess. Despite making a few tweaks for more visual appeal, the “ugly” moniker stuck.
Unlike conventional cornbread, there’s no flour or cornmeal in Huff’s gluten-free creation. She blends corn kernels (fresh local corn, Mexican corn or frozen corn, depending on seasonality) with cornstarch, sugar, cream, butter and eggs. The creamy batter results in a bread that is crispy on the top with a custardy interior. The type of corn used changes the texture, meaning guests may experience different versions of the bread throughout the year.
Huff bakes the individual cornbreads in a large muffin pan for about an hour to cook down the liquidy batter. Rather than sourcing custom-sized muffin liners, she utilizes the kitchen’s leftover cornhusks, which add visual and aromatic flair. “The toasted corn husk imparts a bit of flavour and plays with your olfactory senses,” Huff says.
Every sweet brunch dish needs a hit of decadent creaminess. The Ugly Cornbread comes with a dreamy dollop of 52-per cent-milk-fat unsweetened whipped crème fraîche, topped with a sprinkle of salt. “It’s very heavy, very creamy and very milky to cut the sweetness of the cornbread a little bit,” Huff says.
The Berry Compote
Inspired by the classic combination of cornmeal cake and blueberries, Huff pairs her Ugly Cornbread with a generous spoonful of compote. Blueberries dominate, but she also throws in some haskaps. “The haskaps give that nice rich purpley-blue colour,” she says. “It contrasts with the bright white cream and toasty yellow cornbread.”