Tuesday, February 07, 2006

All Purpose Cornbread

Cornbread is a food that has inspired a lot of debate. Do you like the southern, unsweetened, skillet-baked version with its crispy crust? Do you prefer the high rising, soft and sweet northern-style cornbread, which is almost a sort of cake? Maybe it's because I'm out on the coast, but I like both types of cornbread. While the lovers and the haters fight it out back east, I am content to have my own hybrid version.
My cornbread has all the elements of cornbread that I like. It has an equal ratio of cornmeal and flour, giving it both softness and texture. It has buttermilk, honey and sugar, for flavor and sweetness. Baking it at a high temperature allows the edges to develop a slight crispness, which leaves those who like a sort of crust satisfied and leaves the center to remain soft. The cornbread, while it may not be the paragon of cornbreads, will appeal to just about anyone. The perfect cornbread is probably an impossible task, since the "ideals" are at opposite ends of the spectrum, anyway.
Use this to dunk in a spicy chili or slather with butter. It is also excellent for breakfast with honey or jam. It's quick to make, too, so you can fix it during halftime and have it ready before the fourth quarter.

Buttermilk Cornbread
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp sugar
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 egg
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400F and lightly grease an 8-inch square pan.
Whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, beat buttermilk, egg, honey and vegetable oil until well blended. Stir in dry ingredients, mixing until no streaks remain.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake at 400F for 23-28 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the bread pulls away from the side of the dish slightly.
Serves 12.