A dish that more closely resembles a pudding or a soufflé than an actual type of bread. Spoon bread often rises high and light similar to a soufflé. It is baked in a casserole dish rather than in a bread loaf pan. Proper doneness is determined when the blade of a knife, inserted into the center of the spoon bread, comes out clean. The spoon bread is served immediately, directly from the casserole dish rather than being turned out of the dish in the same manner that bread is turned out of a loaf pan before serving; in fact, the soft, smooth consistency and texture of spoon bread dictates that it must be eaten with a spoon (hence, the name) or fork, rather than out of hand as in the manner of true bread.
There are many recipes for spoon bread. It is most often prepared with cornmeal rather than bread flour, and it is enriched with eggs, butter, and milk, but this is where the similarity in the various types of spoon bread ends. Some recipes may call for different kinds of cheese; bits of meat, such as bacon; pureed vegetables, such as squash and carrots; various herbs, such as rosemary, basil, and thyme; and spices, such as cumin, cayenne pepper, and cloves. The variations in the ingredients are endless. Spoon bread is a popular treat in the Southern United States and is said to have originated in Virginia.