Food You Can Eat: Kukuruza (Balkan Cornbread)

This is eaten in Slovenia, among other places. I bet Mel Trump got her fill of this before she was shipped over to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

America really will let just about anyone into the country nowadays

This week I am inspired by food-related comments dropped by Deadsplinterites. On Tuesday we had @brightersideoflife ’s Mayfair Salad. Today we’ll be making this little classic from @luigi-vuoto . I think. I searched the D/S archives but couldn’t find this specific comment.

When I saw the name “kukuruza” I assumed initially that it was an exotic strain of rice grown only on Okinawa, or something like that. No, it is corn-related, so I thought, “well, luigi has that farm, so maybe he’s growing a type of corn I’ve never heard of, but maybe I can—“ Wrong again! All you need is corn flour. This is what I love about cooking. You learn so much.

This recipe is both very simple and a pain in the ass, which is rare. Here’s why. The source, a site called Balkan Lunchbox, has a note:

The recipe asks that you be precise with volumes. Use a digital scale to weigh the corn flour and use measuring cups for water. Protect your fingers while using the boiling water.

I threw caution to the wind and did not use a digital scale, I estimated. I figured if I experienced mission failure, well, that’s what we have Ravenous Hound for. Corn meal shows up in a lot of canine kibble so I thought I could dole it out to him. As it was, this turned out very well, but it’s very dense and not like the buttery cornbread that graces American Thanksgiving tables every November.

17.6 ounces corn flour finely ground corn meal or maize

1 egg

2.5 tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

4 tablespoons oil + a little more

13.5 ounces of boiling water

Are you getting a sense of how irritating this recipe is? But now we get to the easy part.

Heat oven to 480°F. In a large bowl, combine corn flour, egg, sugar, salt and oil.  Mix with a wooden spatula as much as the ingredients will allow. Make a dent in the middle of the mixture and start adding a little bit of water at a time and continue while working ingredients with the spatula.

When you’ve exhausted all the water and mixed ingredients to the max with spatula, start kneading with your hands. (The consistency of dough will be similar to wet sand.) Continue kneading a few minutes until you form a smooth dough ball. 

Transfer the dough bowl into a well-oiled, round, 9-inch pan. Flatten the dough ball and even out with your hands so that it’s of the same thickness everywhere. Lightly oil a plastic scraper and make a circle with it, slightly separating the dough from pan walls. Use the spatula to smooth out any creases in the dough.

Place pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the pan 180 degrees and cover with foil. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Use a toothpick to prick in a few places to check whether the bread is finished. If the toothpick comes out clean, the bread is done. If not, bake a little longer and repeat the test.

Take a clean kitchen towel and wet it. Squeeze out extra liquid until the kitchen towel is damp, but not dripping with water.  Take the bread out of the oven and place in the damp kitchen towel. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes.

Eat cornbread warm. Store in a plastic bag for up to 2-3 days. If eating the following day, soften in warm milk or stew. 



  1. No leavening? I’m curious what the texture is like.

    • It’s very dense, but it is, oddly enough, probably very close to what our American colonial ancestors ate. I think this is the equivalent of a johnnycake, which is mentioned constantly in early American literature. I think I will make this again for the 4th of July and pass it off as that. Holiday theme food. I’m all about holiday theme food.

      • My hero, says your friend Ellie, who clicks on every “25 best recipes for (insert any random holiday)”.

        • At least once a day I think about your six-cup mini-Bundt-cake tin. I lead a very sad and lonely life. For Memorial Day, which is another red-white-and-blue holiday, you could make little blueberry cakes and then dye some buttercream frosting a deep red. THAT’S WHAT I WOULD DO. Just saying.

          • Like I said, my hero!

  2. My wife makes this so good.  Really though, she uses the term “kukuruza” to apply to any corn thing.  She calls corn on the cob kukuruza.  Also popcorn.  That might be a Serbian thing though.  They have many dish names that are unspecific.  For example, she makes something called “bućkuriš” and once I ordered it in a Serbian restaurant in Chicago and they laughed at me and explained that it just means “all the leftovers thrown in a pot together”.

    Also, Kukuruza is the name of a Russian bluegrass band.

    • See! With food you learn something new every day.

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