Tip o’ the Day: (recipe follows) Always preheat your oven to 25-50°F higher than the recipe calls for, then turn it down. You’ll lose 25-30 degrees of heat when you open it and patchke around getting the pan in and out. And most breads (and many pastries) do well with a strong burst of initial heat anyway.
Wanted to get a picture of this before it was too late, but… well, it was almost too late. That’s how good this was with our chili tonight!
This really is one of the few recipes I’d say would be completely different without a cast-iron skillet. I have made cornbread in pans and it’s lovely… but there is something awesomely crispy about cornbread baked in butter on preheated cast-iron. Given that my soul-food diet precludes bacon, I tell myself that this deep, hearty crunch and this corny cornbread’s crunchy sweet / savoury crust is the next best thing. Or really quite special in its own right, depending on if you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person.
- 9” cast-iron skillet (mine was cheap secondhand from Value Village, kashered in my oven’s self-clean cycle)
- Optional: a little silicone handle doohickey like this one makes life REALLY good when transferring a hot cast-iron skillet to or from the oven
- Optional: and I cannot tell you how much better life got with a nice pair of oven gloves… (not mitts; gloves!)
The Dry Stuff:
Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl and set aside:
- 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (or a bit less) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
The Wet Stuff:
- 1/3 cup milk (whole milk is nice, but I used 2%)
- 1 cup yogurt (regular, not Greek!) (if you don’t have yogurt, mix 1 cup of milk with 1-2 tsp of lemon juice / vinegar added – stir and allow 5 minutes to curdle and thicken slightly)
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 stick (= 8 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 1 can (341 ml, 12 oz) corn kernels, drained
- Preheat oven to 450°F. While preheating, melt butter in oven in a 9-inch cast iron skillet (about 5 minutes).
- When butter is melted (even if oven’s not all the way hot), remove from oven and pour into a bowl to cool slightly.
- In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir the milk, yogurt (or soured milk), and eggs together well. Stir in slightly cooled melted butter. Mix well.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry stuff in the large bowl. Pour wet stuff into the well in the dry stuff. Pour in corn kernels now, too.
- Stir a few times just until moistened. Do not overmix!
- Carefully remove hot skillet from the oven (hint: use your silicone handle doohickey if you have one!).
- Pour batter into the skillet - place it in the center of the oven.
- Reduce oven temperature to 425°F.
- Bake until centre is firm and a cake tester, skewer or toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. For me, this was 25 minutes.
- Turn out immediately (use the doohickey!) onto a cooling rack. If your pan is well-seasoned and you melted the butter in it ahead of time, it should just fall out with no sticking. Yay for cast iron!
- If you’re the patient type, allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.