BBA #10: Cornbread
I’m back on the BBA Challenge train after a 2-week break…and the recipe that was up next to tackle was one that, frankly, I thought was a little out of place in book primarily dedicated to yeast bread: cornbread! We love cornbread in this house — the sweet, cakey kind — and so the fact that it was a bit of an anomaly in BBA didn’t turn me off from making it, but it did make me curious as to whether or not this recipe would be any better than the cornbread recipe I’ve been using lately (the Dairy House Hollow Skillet Cornbread recipe from The Cornbread Gospels, a definitive compilation of cornbread history and recipes if there ever was one!)
This was the first recipe in the BBA Challenge where I intentionally left out an ingredient specified in the recipe. Reinhart’s version of cornbread in the book is topped with a layer of crunchy bacon. Now, some of you who read this blog regularly and know how much I love bacon and any pork product may be shocked – shocked! – that I chose not to include this ingredient when I made the cornbread, but something about the idea of it just wasn’t flying with me right now. I’m sure the bacon topping is delicious, and maybe I’d be more in the mood for it when cooler weather rolls around, but in these warm days of summer, I was craving just a sweet, moist, cornbread singing with the pure flavor of summer corn.
Reinhart’s cornbread is a simple quick bread — no yeast, no rising, no kneading — and it’s solidly on the sweet end of the cornbread spectrum, with granulated sugar, brown sugar and honey included as ingredients. It starts with a soaker of coarse cornmeal and buttermilk. I mixed these two ingredients together in a bowl and, per Reinhart’s instruction, left them out at room temperature overnight.
The next day, I mixed together AP flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, I whisked together 3 eggs…
…to which I would add a mixture of melted butter and honey.
I then added the egg/butter/honey mixture to the soaked cornmeal mixture, and whisked to combine.
Finally, I added this wet mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture…
…whisked to blend into a batter, then added 2 1/2 cups of fresh corn, sliced off the cob. Yum.
And again, deviating from Reinhart’s recipe (I was feeling so rebellious that day, can’t you tell?) I decided to make muffins and a little mini-loaf, instead of baking the bread in my cast iron skillet. I do usually make my cornbread in the cast iron skillet, and it’s delicious, but we were heading out of town over the weekend and I wanted something a little more portable to take with us to snack on in the car: muffins fit the bill.
(If I do make this recipe again and use the bacon topping, I’ll go with Reinhart’s suggestion of coating the cast iron skillet with rendered bacon fat. Which, if you’re going the bacon-topped route, would be fantastic.)
The muffins baked for about 25 minutes, and while they didn’t rise very much out of the cups, I could tell they’d be very moist.
The loaf baked for a bit longer, probably closer to 40 minutes.
The verdict: this was, hands-down, the moistest cornbread recipe I’ve ever had. Which was lovely, since many cornbread recipes yield a finished bread that’s crumbly and dry…not so with this: it was ultra-moist, full of sweet corn kernels, and even better the second day. The brown sugar gave a very subtle caramel undertone to the bread which was surprising but delicious. When I make this next time, I think I might actually cut down on the sugar just a bit, as it was just a little too sweet for my taste, but with that modification I think it’s a definite winner.
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Up Next: Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread