When I was little I ran a business called Smart Cookie. I think I must have been nine or ten. It involved me raiding my mother and father’s pantries for ingredients, making cookies (Chocolate Chip and Ginger) and then shamelessly and relentlessly hocing them to neighbors, friends, and family via walking up and down our street tugging them along behind me in a little red wagon. I sold them for $3 per baker’s dozen, and it was my great intent to use all the money I made to buy a pony.
I’m still waiting to save up enough for the pony, but in recent years have really moved away from baking. (Save for a few summers ago when I decided to try to learn how to bake pies; more on that debauchery here.) Suffice it to say, my style in the kitchen has really moved from the precision and control of baking to the fun and adventure of cooking.
The other night though I had a sudden craving for good old-fashioned corn bread. I’m not sure what prompted this, but I suddenly had to have it. Luckily enough I had everything one needs for cornbread (or so I thought) so set about whipping something up.
This is a great recipe because it bakes right in the skillet and can be served directly on the table. Serve with lots of butter, or honey, or slices of cheese. Whatever is your fancy.
Cheddar Skillet Cornbread
Serves 6. Leftovers can be used as a great base for fried corn cakes with tomato, basil and feta. That recipe coming soon!
1 cup flour (spooned and leveled)
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
Optional – 1 TB fresh herbs such as sage or rosemary.
2 large eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
3 tablespoons butter or bacon grease
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and pepper; make a well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk and eggs to well, and whisk to loosen eggs. Gently incorporate dry ingredients, then mix in cheese.
Place butter or grease in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; bake until butter is melted. Remove from oven, and tilt to coat bottom and sides.
Pour batter into prepared skillet; bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t overcook…that’s one of the contributing factors to dried out, crumbly cornbread. A personal pet peeve. Let cornbread cool in skillet at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap completely cooled bread in plastic, and store at room temperature up to 1 day.
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe, which I liked, but found a bit dry.