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Ame_Evil's avatar

Are corn meal, corn flour and polenta interchangeable?

Asked by Ame_Evil (3046points) March 14th, 2010

Ok so I googled this and found nothing, so thought I would ask our lovely bakers and makers here.

I am hoping to make this sexy recipe:, But I do not have any corn flour on me. Is it possible to substitute polenta, or should I just use some plain flour?


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20 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

On this website, it says you can substitute polenta for cornmeal or corn flour and that corn flour would give baked goods a lighter texture (I agree, based on knowing what the texture of flour and polenta is – polenta is much courser in my experience). Apparently, coarse whole grain corn flour is corn meal, so it seems that substituting pulverized polenta would work (pulverized only to make the texture finer). I know with other flours, the amount of gluten varies widely which can affect the texture of whatever you bake. I’m not sure if this is the case with corn flour. Also we’re talking about whole grain cornflour, which may or may not be the same thing as Nigella is talking about…I’m not sure if whole grain corn flour can be further refined.

seldomseenkid's avatar

I think you’d maybe be fine if you have the really finely milled polenta (the kind you’d make chapattis out of) but not if it’s the kind that’s more like the texture of couscous. Cornflour is really finely milled, has the husks removed & is gluten free – flour isn’t gluten free so probably substituting plain flour will have an effect on the texture, but I don’t know what effect! Probably they’ll be a bit heavier – cornflour tends to make baked goods a bit lighter.

I vote for experimenting with the flour substitution.

lilikoi's avatar

^Yep, gluten makes things heavier/chewier. GA. Thanks for teaching me that corn flour is gluten free – I was wondering.

Ame_Evil's avatar

@seldomseenkid By flour substitution what do you mean I substitute the corn flour with? Polenta or plain flour?

Sorry, but what you said was a bit ambiguous :D

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Polenta and grits are the same thing.

seldomseenkid's avatar

Sorry, I meant substitute flour for cornflour, rather than polenta! Was distracted by looking up flour and finding out it’s highly explosive!

marinelife's avatar

I do not think you would get good results doing a substitution of polenta or corn meal for corn flour.

wilma's avatar

I would use my blender to mill the corn meal into corn flour.
I don’t think that wheat flour will substitute in the same way, because of that gluten problem.

janbb's avatar

I think you’re all barking up the wrong tree. Corn flour is what they call corn starch in England; it is not a flour made from corn. Polenta or corn meal would not work; what you need is corn starch. Nigella is English so I’m sure that’s what she meant.

ccrow's avatar

Good point, @janbb@Ame_Evil you could post the question on her forum to make sure. (Those do look good!)

Ame_Evil's avatar

Hmm I will just wait a few days before we go shopping and buy corn flour. Although I am in desperate need for these biscuits :D

Thank you guys for your help.

janbb's avatar

Reading the recipe again, it is definitely written in English. Are you in the States? If so, you need to be aware that icing sugar is confectioner’s sugar, the corn flour is definitely corn starch and biscuits are sweet cookies. The dark chocolate should probably be a good quality semi-sweet or dark baking or eating chocolate.

JLeslie's avatar

I 100% agree with @janbb

Ame_Evil's avatar

Yeah I am pure bred (not, only because noone in Britain truely is) British. I was just unsure what the difference between polenta and corn flour was, and whether it made any difference in this recipe. I probably won’t want to risk it now.

janbb's avatar

O.K. then – follow the recipe as given; you will need to buy “corn flour.”

Ame_Evil's avatar

@janbb Why do you quote “corn flour”? :D

janbb's avatar

Becaue that was your original question; I wanted to highlight that if you are in England that is the product you need. If you were in the US, you would need corn starch.

wilma's avatar

Ah! @janbb that does make a big difference.

YARNLADY's avatar

No they are all corn derived products, but not the same. Pancakes, bread, and Wheaties are all made from wheat flour, but are not all the same. Read the Cornmeal, and Polenta articles in wikipedia for the differences. Corn flour is the finely ground version of corn meal. Think Wheatena cereal as compared to baking flour.

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