This post is about cornbread. Okay, ultimately, the dish I made was Cornbread Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce, but without cornbread, that wasn’t going to happen.
There is a whole spectrum of good cornbread. The texture can range from coarse to almost like cake. You can have yellow or white. Some people add things like corn kernels or jalapenos. (IMHO, that is just wrongwrongwrong. But then, I am a purist.)
As a born-and-bred Southerner, you would think that I would have mastered cornbread as a child. And in a way, I did.
My mom makes a very basic cornbread that has no flour at all in it. It is good, with a coarse, grainy texture and a very crunchy crust. She taught me to make it by the time I was 13 or 14. It involved having a particular bowl and the correct amount of bacon grease available. Also a black skillet. She still makes it that way to this day.
However, my aunt made an awesome cornbread that was practically like eating cake. Moist, light, fluffy and the perfect vehicle for transporting melted butter to your mouth. I adored it.
Her recipe existed only in her head, so one day I made her stop and measure everything as she made it so I could write it down. That worked wonderfully, except that I wrote it on a napkin and the napkin never made it home with me. So that recipe is lost forever.
As an adult, I have tried and tried to recreate the recipe with no success. It always turned out dry and crumbly. I finally resorted to using Martha White yellow cornbread mix. We all like it, it’s cheap, and I can’t screw it up. Done.
Then came the internet.
“Ah-ha!” I thought. “Surely there is a recipe out there that is what I am looking for!” And my search began. I finally found the perfect recipe. Moist, light, slightly sweet, but still with enough body to hold gravy or whatever you want to pile on it without falling to pieces.
I made the recipe several times and dutifully saved the recipe. Somewhere. Then I waited a loooong time before I made it again. I mean, why should I make it myself when I am surrounded by other people who make it so well?
I bet you can guess what happened.
Yep, no idea where I saved it. So when I decided to make Cornbread Bread Pudding, the search was on again. Sigh.
I finally went with this one, with a couple of tweaks (of course!).
Mix 1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups flour, and about 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl. (You can reduce the sugar even more if you don’t want a sweet cornbread.) Just stir it around to make sure it is evenly combined.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave while you add 1/3 cup oil, 1 tabelspoon of honey, 2 beaten eggs, and 1 1/4 cups of milk to the cornmeal mixture. Add the melted butter after you have stirred everything else together so the heat of the butter won’t start to cook the eggs.
The recipe says to put it in a greased 8-inch dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. To do it right, that 8-inch dish should really be either a well-seasoned black skillet or a stone dish. And you may need to cook it a little longer, depending on how brown you like the top of your cornbread.
This recipe worked great in the bread pudding, and just on its own. (I had to sample it to make sure it would work, didn’t I?)
I did double the recipe for the bread pudding, but a single recipe would probably work fine for dinner.
Now, I bet you are wondering about the recipe for that Cornbread Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce, aren’t you? I will post that next, I promise!