Cornbread with an open mind

Masa harina and sugar give classic cornbread a more vivid corn flavor. (Ben Mims/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

LOS ANGELES — One afternoon, as I was preparing a Southern meal for friends coming over for dinner, I realized I had forgotten to make the cornbread. But since I keep all the ingredients on hand at all times, I knew I wouldn’t have a problem quickly baking a round. However, as I searched through my pantry, I saw that I had no cornmeal left, but in its place on the shelf, a lone bag of masa harina. “Corn for corn,” I thought and decided to use it to make my cornbread.