Monday, June 6, 2011
There is a debate in some circles about whether cornbread is even bread. If you can believe it! The truth is, of course, nobody knows for sure. Good cornbread, despite the name, is really one of those wonderful creations that falls in the middle. Like a good brioche, for example. Or any quick bread like banana bread. The rule according to Rose Levy Beranbaum in The Bread Bible (one of the greatest bread cookbooks ever, BTW) seems to be in how the bread is eaten. So cornbread, is usually eaten with a meat meal to sop up gravy, therefore, it's bread. Either way, good cornbread is wonderful. It is soft and crumbly, and just a little sweet from the cornmeal.
The version I bring you here is the basic cornbread which is both versatile and delicious. You can, of course, make it with some of the many variations. Add whole kernels for instance. Or, for the more adventurous, add 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes. The combination of sweet and heat is compelling. And very popular in Texas and places like Texas. Cornbread hales from the South but is now served just about everywhere. The milder versions are better known up North, the sweeter versions in the South, and the fiery versions in the Southwest. Anyway you serve it you are bound to get compliments. Cornbread is truly 'people' food, not gourmet. And maybe more delicious for it.
This recipe is a variation of one I found in Beth Hensberger's The Bread Bible. Not the same book, even though it has the same name. It is simply excellent. A must have for any serious bread baker.
Here's What You'll Need:
1 cup AP flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
4 Tbs. (60g) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F (190 C). Then place all the dry ingredients (the two flours, salt, baking powder and sugar) in a large bowl and whisk together.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter (or margarine).
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix or whisk until just mixed. Don't worry if there are still a few dry patches or even lumps. The mixture will continue to hydrate as it bakes. The important thing is not to overwork it since that develops the gluten. In this case we want the cornbread to be crumbly, not chewy.
4. Place the mixture in a generously oiled pie pan and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until lightly browned and 'springy'.
5. Cool in the pan and serve as wedges.