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Not-So-Southern Cornbread

So, I really wasn’t meaning to continue my ramble through Southern foodways, but here we are. I had some buttermilk leftover from my red velvet cake-making adventures and was looking for a good way to use it up when my daily Tasting Table email dropped fortuitously into my inbox with the perfect recipe for cornbread-one that called for buttermilk–courtesy of the chef at Carriage House, a restaurant in Chicago. And, for real, this is some EXCELLENT cornbread right here.

Southern purists will likely have to look away, though, as this is a sweet, light cornbread–more in the Northern style–that remains nonetheless redolent of corn and full of flavor. I happen to find it better than the more austere Southern versions, and really, how could I not with the embarrassment of riches stirred into the batter–honey, eggs, butter, butermilk, AND sour cream. Not so much healthfood, then, but there’s kale salad for that.

I also ended up baking it in a 9×13″ baking tin rather than a 12″ cast iron skillet, which shockingly even I do not possess. The world didn’t end, however, and I imagine that it’s actually easier to portion than the round would be.

Lightly sweet, lightly savory, totally delicious–and like all quick breads, absolutely dead easy. We’ve been enjoying it for several days now, with salad, with chili… just about anything, I think, could be improved with a few of these golden yellow squares served along side.

Not-So-Southern Cornbread
(lightly) adapted from Mark Steuer, Carriage House, Chicago
Yield: ~12-16 servings

3 large eggs
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 c buttermilk
1 c sour cream
1/3 c honey
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tbs kosher salt
pinch cayenne pepper
12 tbs unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9X13″ baking tin and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of a couple of inches on each long side. Butter the parchment. Set pan aside.

Cut the butter into tbs-size pieces and put in a small bowl. Melt in the microwave and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar. Whisk 1-2 minutes till frothy. Mix in the buttermilk, sour cream, and honey. Whisk well to combine; the honey in particular will resist mixing in. Set aside.

In a different, medium-sized bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients together, using a whisk to eliminate any lumps. Put the prepared pan into the hot oven.

Add the dry mixture to the wet and, using a wooden spoon, mix together just until there are no big dry patches left. Add the melted butter and mix just to incorporate completely. Using oven mitts, remove the pan from the oven and spread the batter evenly into the pan. Return pan to the oven and bake 30-35 minutes, till the bottom and sides are evenly browned and the top is beginning to get golden brown as well. A tester should come out clean when inserted into the center of the pan.

Cool slightly before lifting the cornbread out of the pan with the parchment and cutting into slices. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Notes & Variations
Obviously, this would be a good time to use fancy, artisanal stone-ground cornmeal. I was impressed at how flavorful it was just using  the straight-up Quaker kind. I’m excited to find some really nice cornmeal and see what a difference it will make.

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