Sweet Cornbread ♥ Recipe

Sweet Cornbread
Slightly sweet and this batch, slightly blue with blue cornmeal
Today's recipe: A classic sweet cornbread made with stone-ground cornmeal, honey and cream. Delicious.

~recipe & photo updated 2011~
~more recently updated recipes~

2008: First off, lest anyone fear a diversion from this blog's recipe focus (vegetables, vegetables, vegetables!), who knew - who knew?! - that cornmeal is a vegetable, just field corn dried and ground. I'm embarrassed to admit: cornmeal's humble origin just never registered.

Luckily, despite the lapse, it turns out that a real cornbread lover can nose out another cornbread lover. Crescent Dragonwagon, cornbread lover extraordinaire (who else would write an entire cookbook expressing one's love for cornbread?) looked me up when the Country Cornbread recipe posted to help people use up their leftover ham from Easter. Just a couple of weeks earlier, I'd shared my recipe for cornbread (you know, the single go-to recipe we call our own), the savory ever-moist Skillet Cornbread, in Kitchen Parade, my food column. I didn't know I loved cornbread so much. But Crescent did -- she even offered to send a complimentary copy of her cookbook The Cornbread Gospels.

And she was so so right! There's just so much to love about cornbread. How cornbread can 'save' a skimpy supper. How mixing cornbread takes maybe 10 or 15 minutes. How cornbread emerges from the oven just 30 minutes later, steamy, substantial, ready for hungry folk to dig in. How cornbread is made, nearly always, from simple on-hand pantry ingredients. (I swear, The Cornbread Gospels uses the same ten ingredients again and again, turning out an astonishing variety of cornbread and racking up some 200+ recipes.) How cornbread's many variations are so different -- starting with southern savory cornbreads and their northern sweeter cousins. How cornbreads' names are familiar but old-fashioned, johnnycakes, hoecakes, hush puppies, spoonbread. Especially, I love how cornbread is so very American, the staple grain fundamental to Native Americans, later to this country's early settlers, and later still, for families in the southern states, especially, of the U.S.

CORN: THE VEGETABLE THAT'S EASY TO HATE Nowadays, corn has become déclassé. There's the farm subsidy issue and the carbs in corn issue and the very real high-fructose corn syrup issue. (For another point of view on HFCS, visit HSCSFacts from the Corn Refiners Association.) But what about this? Isn't corn one of the all-time most useful -- frugal -- plants and thus worthy of use not abuse?

"Every part of the corn plant -- the second most plentiful cereal grown on earth for human consumption -- serves us in some way. The husks of corn are traditionally used in making tamales, the kernels for food, the stalks for cattle and hog food (silage), and the silks for medicinal tea. You can fry in it (corn oil), bake with it (cornmeal, of course), snack on it (popcorn, tortilla chips), sweeten with it (corn syrup), thicken with it (cornstarch), and get drunk on it (bourbon)."
~ The Cornbread Gospels

ABOUT THE CORNBREAD GOSPELS What to make first: this was my biggest 'problem' with The Cornbread Gospels. What a 'problem'! These are easy recipes, ones to pull together in a flash. In between recipes are amusing tidbits (think quick quotes from novels) and useful information (the nine major differences, say, between southern and northern cornbreads) and sooo much more. It's beautifully organized: southern cornbreads, northern cornbreads, southwestern cornbreads, 'global' cornbreads, babycakes (you know, muffins, cornsticks, biscuits), cornbread made with yeast, spoonbreads, pancakes, crisped cornbreads, dessert cornbreads -- and my favorite chapter, "why you should always make a double batch", ways to use up leftover cornbread.

WHY CHOOSE STONE-GROUND CORNMEAL Could you use the standard "yellow cornmeal"? It's easy to find, it's inexpensive, it keeps forever. Yes -- and I often do, when I can't find or don't want to make a special trip, just for cornmeal. But yellow cornmeal has been degerminated, this means that its healthful and flavorful germ (and hull) removed. Stone-ground cornmeal has real flavor, its texture is also delightfully gritty -- though this may take some getting used to by some.

WHERE TO BUY STONE-GROUND CORNMEAL Yes, it's hard to find.

The Cornbread Gospels websites lists online sources for stone-ground cornmeal, including War Eagle Mill and Purcell Mountain Farms.
I find Bob's Red Mill stone-ground yellow cornmeal at Whole Foods (which means your own grocer might stock or be willing to stock it too).
Many thanks to a Wisconsin reader who recommends the stone-ground white cornmeal from Anson Mills in South Carolina. For retail sales, Anson mills and ships one day a week -- this stuff is fresh! Anson sells grits and polenta too. Thank you so much, Edith!
I have also now found found stone-ground blue cornmeal, a Bob's Red Mill product (for St. Louisans, at Sappington Farmers Market).
Stone-ground cornmeal should be refrigerated and even frozen so that it doesn't go rancid. (How to tell if it's gone bad? Do the sniff test. If it is virtually odorless, it's fresh. If it has an 'off' smell, the oil has gone bad.)
I buy stone-ground cornmeal in small packages (compounding the hard-to-find and out-of-the-way problem) and then freeze it.

BACK to THE RECIPE for SWEET CORNBREAD This is an easy cornbread to love, sweet but not too sweet, rich but not too rich. It was perfect for an evening when supper's soup was a big disappointment, part bread, part dessert. With butter and honey? To moan over. The leftovers would make a great sweet cornbread pudding, too. If I wanted one recipe for my sweet cornbread, this would be it. But thanks to The Cornbread Gospels, I've got 199 more recipes to try before picking just one.

2011: Aiii, this is a good cornbread recipe! It's just sweet enough, not too sweet. I used a mix of stone-ground yellow cornmeal and stone-ground blue cornmeal, hence the blue cast to the bread in the photo. I won't use blue cornmeal anymore, what's pretty in the bag turns a dull gray in baked goods. But overlooking the color? Delicious.

SWEET CORNBREAD

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 35 - 40 minutes
Serves 8

1 cup flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring (100% white whole wheat flour works great, so does 100% whole wheat flour)
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal (see KITCHEN NOTES)
1 tablespoon baking powder, fluffed to aerate before measuring
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/4 cup honey
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) room temperature butter
2 eggs
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly butter a baking dish. (The inspiring recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan. In 2008, I used a 9-1/2" round cakepan -- both have similar areas. In 2011, I used a cast-iron skillet, see NOTES.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

In a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup, warm the honey in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. (To make it easier to pour, I warmed the honey right in its container, then poured it into the Pyrex cup.) Stir in the butter til it melts. Whisk in the eggs until all three are well combined. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to baking dish. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately. Keeps well at least through the second day.

ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
2008: These would make great muffins too, I think.
2008: The Pyrex measuring cup means there will be no measuring cups, etc. to dirty.
2011: If you like a chewy bottom crust for cornbread, use a cast iron skillet and this quick trick. First, put the ungreased skillet into the oven while it preheats. When the oven is hot and the batter ready, carefully remove the skillet, lightly grease and then gently pour the batter into the skillet -- then bake.



A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE CORNBREAD RECIPES
~ Pumpkin Cornbread ~
~ Pumpkin & Green Chile Cornbread Topping ~
~ more cornmeal recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Skillet Cornbread ~
~ Savory Cornbread Muffins ~
~ more cornmeal recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column


© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2008


11 comments:

Cornbread is one of those things that I find so completely addictive that I can't make it unless I have people around to eat it right away. Like biscuits, warm cornbread calls to me. It's one "vegetable" I could eat at every meal!

Great observations, and now I'm hungry for cornbread. When I took a "foreign and regional cooking" class in high school (just a trimester class, back in the early 80s), we did those variations of cornbread for nearly every region of the US, and a couple of the other countries, too.

Bread as a vegetable! Yay.

Using cornmeal in bread and muffin recipes is a natural fit for gluten-free baking because it adds tender grainy goodness to the (sometimes dry) texture of gluten-free flours.

I have a favorite Skillet Cornbread rceipe, too; in fact, we just had it for lunch- with soup. Heaven.

Rock on, Alanna!

Hurrah! No matter how much my friends accuse me of liking "yankee cornbread," I just can't get enough of the sweet stuff, especially with honey and butter. Pooey on them - I'll take a slice!

Here's another cornbread fan! Need that book! For blue cornmeal, try Arrowhead Mills -- should be in a health food store, or ask them to order it. The Tassahara Bread Book has a fabulous cornbread that separates into layers, bread + custard.

I just check The Perfect Pantry for white corn meal. Yes, it's a Rhode Island native.

Sounds delicious. I don't have any trouble finding the stone ground stuff. Love it!

You've got sunshine!! I see it - right there on your cornbread and butter! I see the sun!! You lucky girl. More snow predicted tomorrow and Saturday. (Jiffy is my go-to cornbread "recipe" - LOL)

MMMMM... I love cornbread! Reading your post made me hungry. :) Bob's Red Mill also makes a blue cornmeal. I can find it in my healthfood store, but you can also get it online at www.bobsredmill.com. I think I'll make cornbread tonight.

Lydia ~ Ah yes, especially the sweet cornbreads. I find the savory ones (like my Skillet Cornbread) to be easy to parcel out, a small slice at a time -- once it's cold, that is :-)

Sharon ~ I'm excited to try those too.

Kari ~ Ah the magic of blogging! That's great to know about the gluten-free applications, thanks.

Judith ~ Yankee cornbread! But how about with sorghum, what happens then?!

Susan ~ Great tips, thank you. And NEXT UP is a custard cornmeal, I've tried a couple recipes in the last few years, they didn't measure up to expectations, for sure. PS A Rhode Island native, excellent!

RecipeGirl ~ Lucky you! Maybe there's hope for the rest of us.

Sally ~ Stay warm, Lady. PS Will you let me try to convert you? No comparison!

Cassidy ~ I guess I need to visit my neighborhood health food store more often, haven't been in there in, um, years.

Does anyone have the recipe to the sweet corn bread that is sold predominately in the southern Whole Food stores in Florida (Fort Lauderdale on US1)? It is more a cake than it is cornbread but it is by far the best I have ever had. I have tried to replicate the recipe several times so far but no luck.

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna