custardy cornbread (misunderstood)

I debated whether or not to share this recipe with you. Up to this point, I’ve only posted recipes for Simmer that I genuinely like. I haven’t written about every single recipe that’s passed through my kitchen these past few months, only the shining stars – recipes I’ve made and loved, things I think will be relatively easy to reproduce in most home kitchens, and (truthfully) those I’ve had a chance to photograph. (I’ve been realizing lately that Simmer has a serious sweet-tooth, which might be partly because I do too, but mostly it’s because I tend to bake during the day when it’s easy to take good photos. Lots of savory recipes just don’t make it because they’re getting eaten at 8 or 9 o’clock and the light (er, dark) + exhaustion + hunger + slight tipsiness (only sometimes) = no photos.) But let’s be honest, I’ve made plenty of things that are either too boring to write about or just total flops. 
This recipe falls into neither category and I made it for breakfast so photos weren’t an issue. But still, I wasn’t sure it was “Simmer worthy.” Read: I just didn’t like it that much. But, and here’s why I thought I go ahead and share it, it certainly tasted good and I can imagine other people liking it just fine. 
Custardy cornbread, what’s not to like, right? It’s not as if I’m a southerner and so dead set on my one true cornbread that I can’t bend an inch towards a new recipe. I grew up about as geographically far from the South as you can get, and cornbread is not something I ever remember eating growing up. (Maybe that’s part of the problem? I don’t crave it like some people do. But, I didn’t eat pho or really good croissants or oysters growing up either and I manage to crave them all from time to time.) Really, I think I was just expecting something ground shaking; a cornbread to trump all others that came before. This recipe comes with some serious hype. I first read about it in Molly Wizenberg’s book A Homemade Life, and just like learning a new word, now I see it everywhere. Most recently, featured a quinoa cornbread look-alike. It sounds so darn delicious – buttery cornbread batter with a full cup of heavy cream poured into the middle and then baked to golden perfection, the idea being that the cream sets to a corn-y custard in the center. Poured with maple syrup for breakfast sounded enticing enough to send me straight to my whisk. And whisk I did, but the result was, well, a very wet, but otherwise ordinary cornbread. It kind of reminded me of the texture of polenta, not the creamy kind you find in a pot, but the kind you slice and fry up in a little butter. In fact, I might try frying some of the leftovers and eating them with some scallions and grated cheese. There was indeed a layer of “custard” towards the middle, which was tasty sure, but because the whole thing is so wet to start, it wasn’t the textural contrast I was hoping for. All the attention this recipe’s attracted makes me think that I might have missed its charm. So, here it is: good sure, but not the revelation I was expecting.

For the Cornbread

1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp melted butter plus 1 tbsp more for the pan
2 eggs
2 cups whole milk (I used 1%,
is the revelation in the milk?)
1 ½ tbsp distilled vinegar
1 cup heavy cream
Maple syrup to serve

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk well. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, eggs, milk, and vinegar. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until no lumps are visible. Heat an 8 inch skillet over high heat with 1 tbsp butter. Swirl the butter to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour the batter into the hot pan and then carefully pour the cream in the center of the batter. Slide the whole thing into the oven being careful not to knock it or disturb the cream. Bake 45-55 minutes until golden and set. Cool 10-20 minutes and then slice and serve with a good pouring of maple syrup.

  1. Pingback: griddle-less english muffins : Simmer Seasonal Recipes

  2. using 1% milk will make a big difference in the finished product.

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