Best Southern Spoon Bread recipe is an old-fashioned cornbread casserole with a soufflé pudding texture. This elevated recipe adds silky mashed sweet potatoes and warm cinnamon flavor to make a comforting side dish perfect for holiday gatherings or weeknight dinners.
Wrap sweet potatoes in foil. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until tender. Remove foil and cool enough to handle. Remove skins and place potato flesh in a large bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF.
In a large saucepan bring milk, brown sugar (or maple syrup), pumpkin pie spice, salt, and pepper to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in cornmeal. Stir constantly and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and starts to pull away from bottom of pan. Remove from heat and cool for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, add melted butter, egg yolks, and baking powder to cooled sweet potatoes. Mix well with a hand held mixer until mixture is smooth with no large lumps remain. Add slightly cooled cornmeal mixture to sweet potatoes. Mix well again and set aside.
In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 egg whites into sweet potato mixture, then gently fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
Spoon batter into prepared dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired. Bake for 1 hour, or until internal temperature reaches 165ºF. The edges will be golden brown and firm while center is soft, yet cooked and set. Inserted toothpick should not come out wet, but will have soft crumbs on it. Serve immediately.
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Make Ahead Directions
This can be made ahead of time a couple different ways. If you wish to prep the recipe before hand, still plan on baking it right before serving because it is best served immediately.
Cook the sweet potatoes, cool, and leave securely wrapped in foil. Store in the refrigerator for a few days. Roasting the sweet potatoes before knocks a lot of time off the recipe.
Alternatively, put everything together except folding in the egg whites. Refrigerate the sweet potato / cornmeal mixture and egg whites separately, up to 3 days. When ready to bake, let the sweet potato mixture and egg whites sit out to come to room temperature. Beat the egg whites until stiff, fold into sweet potato batter, and bake as directed.
Can the Sweet Potatoes Be Replaced with Corn?
Yes, if you are looking for a traditional recipe, replace the cooked sweet potatoes with 1 can drained sweet corn kernels. Also, omit the pumpkin pie spice seasoning.
Do the Egg Whites Have to Be Beaten Separately?
Beating the egg whites separately lightens the texture and gives it a more soufflé -like texture. To save time, though, the whole eggs can be mixed in.The taste will still be just as fabulous, but it will have a slightly denser texture, more like cornbread casserole.