Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Cornbread Chronicles

Just in case you're having Christo's big cowboy chili  (or ribs or barbequed chicken) for Superbowl Sunday, don't forget to include some cornbread too.

 Actually, let me amend that statement. Fresh from the oven, smeared with some butter, this cornbread is so delicious all on its own. Top it with some fig jam and you could call it dessert.

This recipe, from Taste Of Home, turned out just the way I like - moist, with a tender crumb and full of corn flavor. My quest for some good cornbread took a few detours though, as I tried several recipes in the course of a week, trying to get it right.

The first one, which included chopped jalapeno peppers, was too dry and crumbly. I should have realized it when I was mixing it, since it was more like a crumb topping for a cake. I tossed it out to the birds. Fortunately, there was snow on the ground, so if they had parched throats after eating this, they could quench their thirsts. 

The second recipe (which also included jalapeno peppers, cheddar cheese and a can of creamed corn) was too wet and gooey, even though I kept it in the oven longer than called for. I threw it out to the squirrels - or who knows? Maybe that red fox that's shown up a couple of times in my yard lately ate it. In any event, it wasn't fit for human consumption. 

By now, I figured I'd better read a few more recipe reviews before baking cornbread. But what I did know was that I really didn't want jalapeno peppers in my cornbread. I wanted good old fashioned, plain cornbread.

So I read the critiques from home cooks following each cornbread recipe, until I found this one, where the praise was nearly unanimous. "This will now be my go-to recipe," one reviewer wrote. "Delicious. It always gets rave reviews," wrote someone else, echoing dozens of others.

So armed with kudos from dozens of bakers, I made this recipe, cutting back a little on the sugar, as some recommended.

 I didn't bake it in the 13 x 9 inch pan called for, but rather in a 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish. As a result, I increased the baking time by about 15-20 minutes. Bake it in muffin tins for a different way of serving it - or in a cast iron skillet. Just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly.

It's a simple recipe, but really is a winner, and like the other reviewers, it will be my go-to recipe for cornbread from now on.

I'm afraid the birds and squirrels in my back yard will have to be content with stale bread -- or wait for another kitchen failure at some point in the future.

Buttery Cornbread


printable recipe here

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar (I used 2/3 cup and it was plenty)

3 eggs

1 2/3 cups 2 percent milk

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

4 1/2 tsps. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Combine eggs and milk. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking power and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with egg mixture.

Pour into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into squares. serve warm. Yield: 15 servings.

Note: I used a square 8 x 8 inch baking pan and baked it for 40-45 minutes.

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