I love cornbread–during my first job after grad school, which was exhausting and paid very little, there were a few times when I could have happily gotten by with a few Pepperidge Farm corn muffins for dinner. (That was not all I ate, of course.) But I quickly learned that I don’t love all cornbread–while working my way through the breadbasket at Calhoun’s, a barbecue chain in Tennessee, I ran into southern-style cornbread…dry, crumbly, salty. I think it was one of the first breads I didn’t take to immediately.
Northern, or more specifically New England, cornbread, is moister and sweeter than southern. But both types are quick breads, relying on baking soda or powder rather than yeast for leavening. Cornbread batter consists of a simple mixture of dry ingredients, with a few wet ingredients then added. Let it sit for a few minutes to give the baking powder a chance to start working, and then just pop it in the oven.
Yes, you could use a mix–they’re cheap enough–but making the batter from scratch takes about 2 minutes more. You could also skip heating the pan in the oven (not the preheating itself), but in my experience the hot pan makes the bread rise a little higher. (This tip comes from Forking Fantastic, which Chris reviewed in an earlier post.)
New England-style Cornbread
- 1-1/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk whole or 2%
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Put an 8-inch square pan on a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- When the oven is hot, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Add milk, oil, and egg. Stir with a fork until dry ingredients are just moistened, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently.
- Let the batter rest for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter to the pan in the oven.
- When the butter has melted, remove the pan and make sure that the bottom is coated with butter.
- Pour the batter into to pan.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown.