Cornbread in a Skillet
In my “laboratory kitchen” : ) I’ve sampled many a cornbread recipe. This may well be my favorite. To my mind, cornbread simply has to be made with buttermilk – it improves the texture by making it more tender, and the flavor by giving it a hint of tang. I love the inclusion of whole corn kernels. Love a bit of honey, but not overly-sweet – really like when the corn flavor stays out front. Love the crispy crust you get when you bake it in a pre-heated cast-iron skillet.
This recipe only has one cup of white flour in it, with three whole cups of whole grain for nutrition’s sake. (Another bonus, the addition of whole wheat pastry flour helps preserve the moisture beyond the time when it’s cut, steaming hot, from the pan.) (A word to you finickies: if you equate whole-grain with the texture or taste of sawdust, this does not taste like a whole-grain recipe.)
A person can vary this recipe in all sorts of ways, and I’ll give you some examples at the bottom of the post.
- 2 cups whole cornmeal
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup frozen corn, thawed – or 1 cup canned corn drained
- 1 Tablespoon butter for the pan
Preheat the oven to 400°F. For a crispy crust, place either a 9-inch square pan or a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven. (Otherwise you can simply butter your chosen baking pan and set it aside.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – cornmeal, flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet – eggs, buttermilk, honey and then the melted butter. Stir in the corn.
Add all at once to the dry ingredients, stirring quickly and lightly so as not to overwork it. (Stirring a quick-bread lightly helps keep it light.)
To bake in a preheated pan: Remove the skillet or pan from the oven and drop in 1 Tablespoon butter. Swirl it around to coat the bottom and sides. Carefully pour in the batter and return it to the oven to bake until the top is golden brown and a cake-tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. 25 – 30 minutes.
To bake in a greased pan (not preheated): Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake until the top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. 30 – 35 minutes.
Serve warm – with butter and honey if you like (or the two spun together.)
An idea: the reheated leftovers would go well with huevos rancheros the next morning!
Variations on a theme:
Maple cornbread – omit the honey, and decrease the buttermilk to 1½ cups. Add ½ cup Grade B maple syrup and ½ teaspoon maple flavor to the batter.
Cheese & Jalapeño cornbread – add 1½ cups of grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, and ½ cup of canned, drained sliced jalapeño peppers, or 1/3 cup diced fresh jalapeños.
Bacon & Cheddar cornbread – Cook, drain, and crumble ½ pound of turkey or pork bacon. Stir into the batter along with 1½ cups grated cheddar cheese.
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(This recipe is slightly adapted from appearing in Whole Grain Baking – a King Arthur Flour cookbook –
if you’re interested in adding more whole grain to your diet, this book is chock full of really wonderful recipes – check it out on Amazon.com)