Quote from Intro:

"Anyone can cook, and most everyone should. It's a sorry sign that many people consider cooking 'from scratch' an unusual and even rare talent.
In fact, it is a simple and rewarding craft, one that anyone can learn and even succeed at from the get-go."
-Bittman, HTCE

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Corn Bread

I have long searched for the perfect corn bread recipe.  I have a very specific idea in my head of what cornbread should taste like.  To me it should be fluffy and moist and even though I would never dream of eating it without butter, it really shouldn't need it.

In this recipe Mark specifically says that you should use medium-grind cornmeal.  The cornmeal that I had in my pantry did not say what kind of grind it is, so I'm not sure if it was correct or not.  I do know it was white cornmeal that I used and that some recipes specify yellow, but Mark did not so I thought white would be fine.  The taste of this cornbread was okay, but this recipe isn't the "one" I have been searching for.  This one was a little more dense then I like and it was way too dry to become my go-to cornbread recipe.  It was good, don't get me wrong, just not the "one".  Philip complained that it did not have much flavor, but I attribute that to the type of cornmeal that I used, not necessarily the recipe.

The next time I make this recipe it will definitely be with "medium-grind" yellow cornmeal (and probably a cup of corn kernels for the "corny corn bread" variation).  On second thought maybe the "lighter, richer" variation is the version that will really give me the soft moist crumb that I have been searching for.  I'm sure I can still add corn and I'll just have "lighter, richer corny corn bread".

Even though this recipe is not the "one", I do have some additional comments on the method suggested here.  Mark asks you to use any 8-inch ovenproof skillet. I'm sure "any" skillet would be okay, but I used my 12" round cast iron skillet to make this recipe because frankly if you own a cast iron skillet, why would you make cornbread in any other vessel?  If you don't own a cast iron skillet, put it on your wish list now before you finish reading the rest of this post!  Since I am using a 12" and not an 8" my cooking time is a little bit faster and the bread was thinner then I like, but in the future I should just make a double batch if I want it to be thick (a 12" skillet has a little more than twice the volume of an 8" skillet).

In Step #2 Mark has you heat up your skillet on the stove top to melt your butter or warm your oil.  Are you kidding?  Your oven is already at 375° so please, don't follow his advice, and instead pre-heat your skillet in the oven.  If you are using just butter in this step you will have to watch the butter or else you can burn it.

Lastly, this recipe calls for buttermilk and if you are like me you don't keep buttermilk in your fridge.  Instead I use powdered buttermilk and according to Cook's Illustrated it works just fine in place of the real thing and lasts a whole lot longer.  Just add the powder in with the dry ingredients and add water instead of milk during the wet ingredients step.

HTCE p.831
HTCEV p.687

Since writing the post above I found this version posted by Mark.  It is the same one that is in HTCE except that is has another egg and way more sugar (1/4-1/2 cup instead of 1 T.).  If you don't have HTCE, our version is called the "Old-Fashioned Cornbread" variation at the bottom of the recipe. In this recipe he also just uses plain milk instead of buttermilk which I have never seen before in a cornbread recipe.  The instructions have also changed a bit in that they follow my advice and is preheating the cast-iron skillet in the oven.  Now I don't know which variation to try next!

************Update (12/2011): I have found THE ONE. **********

1 comment:

  1. I use milk, not buttermilk, in my usual cornbread recipe and it works great. I did not care too much for Mark's recipe, but it's an okay basic backup. I might try his Old-Fashioned version now.... hmmm


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