Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Classic Cornbread

Things that make my life better:

  • Puddin' and Daisy

  • Soft blankets.  Don't underestimate the power of a nice blanket.  Will's mom gave me my favorite blanket ever for Christmas two years ago.  Now Puddin' likes it too.
  • A glass of wine.  I don't think I need to explain this really.  It's a nice way to relax in the evening.
  • Football.  Win or lose, it makes my heart pound and my pulse race.  Winning is better obvi.
  • Cornbread from scratch.  C'mon, one of these had to be about food.
So cornbread from scratch pretty much makes my world go 'round.  I have a few rules about cornbread.  The biggest is that it should not be sweet.  Sweet cornbread really chaps my behind.  I know that Jiffy mix is tempting, and I have used it before.  But it makes something closer to spoonbread I think.  Maybe I'm talkin' out of my chapped behind, but I'm just particular about most of the cornbread I eat.  This is not to say it doesn't have sugar it.  The sugar just isn't noticeable.  A couple of months ago we got a loaf of cornbread from a higher-end grocer who shall remain nameless.  The fact that it was in a loaf probably should've been the first tip-off, but one bite of the bread and you could tell it was more like pound cake made with corn meal.  Kind of gross.  And completely disappointing.  

The second rule is that cornbread is best when made in a cast iron skillet.  It adds a nice touch, and I like the crust it makes better.  The third rule is that under no circumstances should cornbread be dry.  That's just sad.  Dry cornbread is like a featherless penguin.  It gets rejected, and no body wants to mess with it.  Luckily the penguin was able to grow its feathers after some love and care by aquarium workers.  The cornbread isn't so lucky.

Y'know good cornbread isn't hard to make.  A little of this, a little of that.  A pat of butter.  

You'll need: Corn meal, all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, and yes, sugar.  You'll also need milk, an egg, and vegetable oil but somehow I forgot to take a picture of those.  Go figure.  I'm particular, not perfect.
This is our cornbread bowl.  No joke, I don't think I've made cornbread in anything different.  Sift some flour on top of the cornmeal.  Add the salt, baking powder, and sugar.
Give her a whisk to combine it all.
Whisk the egg, milk, and vegetable oil together.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and give it a few good strokes to bring it together.  Let it stand for a minute.
My personal preference is this: A well-seasoned cast iron skillet (this is a 10-inch) gets a dose of vegetable oil in the bottom.  Not a whole lot.  I just do about a 3 second pour and tilt the pan to coat the bottom.  The extra vegetable oil makes the crust a little crispy I think.  Pour the batter in the pan and make sure it spreads all the way to the sides.  Bake in a 425º oven for 18-23 minutes.  
Lookie there!  Golden brown on top, and the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan.
We ate the cornbread with pot roast, vegetables, and butterbeans.  I realize butterbeans are a vegetable, I just differentiated them from the veggies cooked with the roast.  The cornbread is light and decidedly not dry.  In fact it was quite moist even two days later.
The crust is my favorite part ever ever ever.  

So you see it's not hard.  It's really quite easy.  And the results are so worth any time it takes.  Things will come and go, but scratch cornbread will never go out of style.

Classic Cornbread (makes 8 servings)
1 c cornmeal
1 c all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 c sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil, plus more for skillet
1 egg
  • Preheat oven to 425º.  Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk together milk, vegetable oil, and egg in a small bowl.  Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Let stand 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour vegetable oil into 10-inch cast iron skillet, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Pour cornbread batter into skillet and make sure batter spreads to the sides.  Bake cornbread 18-23 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm with butter.

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