November 20, 2009
My Favorite Cornbread
This week I went to the last outdoor farmer's market of the season. My hands were frozen as I chose which squash, sweet potatoes and greens I would buy. The farmers looked even colder, bundled in jackets, hats and hoods. The sun shone weakly as we chatted about how we were looking forward to Thanksgiving. In the background, workers were putting up the annual giant Christmas tree in Monument Square. I hurried on to the rest of my day's activities with bags stuffed with more of the season's goodness. I usually try to stock up a bit on vegetables and fruits that will keep for a couple months in the pantry and the fridge so I can continue to eat good local produce into the cold months.
I've been enjoying many meals featuring these delicious jewels of fall: butternut squash gratin, roasted root vegetables, squash risotto with goat cheese and caramelized onions, apple tart, a beet salad, and potato and sweet potato cakes. I love having so many good vegetables to choose from right in the kitchen. The other night, to accompany a squash gratin and beet salad, I made my favorite corn bread.
Corn bread is so simple, and I suspect that with its many possible variations, everyone has their own favorite recipe. Mine is based off of this recipe from the New York Times, but I've made it my own. If I have fresh corn available, I use it. Sometimes I use frozen corn kernels. Depending on what it is going with I might put in some crumbled cheese, I rarely add the thyme that the original recipe calls for because I don't often have any that is fresh. I'm partial to using more whole grains and substituting honey for sugar, so that is what I do. As long as you follow the basic outline for the corn bread you can make a variation that suits you.
My Favorite Corn Bread
I don't have a cast iron skillet that is the right size for this recipe so I use a stainless steel one that fits. You could also use a nine-inch round or square pan and melt the butter in the oven as it preheats.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk or sour cream (or add one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 1/4 cups of milk. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until it curdles)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup butter
Optional additions: 3/4 cup grated or crumbled cheddar cheese and or 1 cup of corn kernels
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Measure out 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, sour cream or sour milk into a 2-cup measuring cup. Add vegetable oil, egg and honey and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined. Add the cheese or corn if using.
Melt butter in a 9-inch cast iron (or other) skillet over medium-high heat. Cook it until it begins to color into a golden brown. Remove from heat and pour the batter into the pan on top of the butter. Bake in the pan in the oven until golden brown and a fork or toothpick come out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes and enjoy!