recipe showdown: cornbread

I’ve already fallen in love with custard cornbread, but with Thanksgiving just around the corner, I figured I needed a really great traditional, buttermilk cornbread recipe up my sleeve.  I tried Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread from All Recipe which boasts over 3000 five star reviews, All-Purpose Cornbread from Cook’s Illustrated 20th Anniversary Best Recipes Cookbook, and Perfect Cornbread from Little B Cooks. I fed them all to my family and friends alongside a piping hot bowl of tomato soup, and there was a clear winner.

In past Recipe Showdowns, I have been a bit frustrated by the fact that often there isn’t a clear winner.  In the past, both of the recipes are so good, it’s really unfair to put one above the other. 
One of the ideas behind Recipe Showdown is that I can “test-drive” the most popular recipes, so that you don’t have to. For example, let’s say your friends ask you to bring cornbread to a holiday get-together.  You won’t have to waste ingredients trying all the recipes, or risk serving something less than delicious to your friends, since I’ve done all the dirty work for you!

Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread

In this showdown, Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread was a clear winner over All-Purpose Cornbread.  It has a nice, crunchy, golden brown top and a sweet, flavorful texture.  All-Purpose came up short with an overly crumbly texture and a chunky, pale exterior. However, Perfect Cornbread boasted some pretty great health stats (1/3 cup coconut oil over a whole stick of butter!).  Perfect Cornbread also had a nice texture which would satisfy all (not as cakey as Grandmother’s, and not as crumbly as All-Purpose).  I also loved the slight hint of rich coconut flavor in Little B Cooks’ recipe.  Healthy, perfect texture, and delicious? Looks like we have a winner!

All-Purpose Cornbread. Not too pretty…

As always, feel free to challenge the winner with your own delicious cornbread recipe!
With love,
Erica


Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread
Cook’s Illustrated All-Purpose Cornbread
Little B Cooks Perfect Cornbread
Description
“Grandma’s recipe for a sweet moist cornbread is likely to become your favorite!”
“Brushing regional differences aside, we wanted both a tender, fluffy crumb and a thick crunchy crust.  But what we wanted most of all was sweet corn flavor.”
Perfect cornbread – I substituted 1/3 cup coconut oil for the olive oil for a sweet and healthy twist!
Taster’s notes
Looks like cornbread
More flavor
Crunchy top
Sugar
Amazing crust
Yummy golden edges
Crumbly
I would be embarrassed to bring this to a potluck
Pale color
Not crunchy
No crust, edges just crumble
Chunky
Delicious
Healthy
Sweeter than other breads
Texture closer to desired cornbread (between the two other breads)



Perfectly Moist Cornbread 
Adapted from Little B Cooks

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup sugar

2 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)

1 egg
  Preheat oven to 375, and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.  Add the egg, milk and vegetable oil and stir until just combined.  Pour batter into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

custard cornbread

When the air gets chilly, there is nothing I love more than a big, steamy bowl of my mom’s soup.  She makes ratatouille, chili, and minestrone. But my all time favorite is her butternut squash soup.  It is delicious on its own, but it’s absolutely perfect with a big wedge of custardy cornbread on the side.

It’s kind of a funny story how I found this recipe.  I was perusing the internet, the usual suspects (i.e. Pinterest and Foodgawker), and saw something strange, almost disgusting, and oh-so intriguing.  It was called spider cake. (perfect for Halloween right?!)
A cake with spiders in it? God I hope not!
A spider shaped cake? A spider shaped cake? Won’t that be hard to get out of the pan?
Soon enough, I found out that this cake has absolutely nothing to do with spiders. Whew. Because I am completely arachnophobic.

It’s actually a delicious cornbread with a lovely, custard filling.  Crumbly, buttery, and with a super-crisp outside.  Exactly how cornbread should be. I love how it gets baked in a cast iron skillet.  It makes me feel all nice and rustic.

A warm slice of this cake covered in maple syrup is about as good as it gets.

With love, Erica

Custard-Filled Cornbread (The Breakfast Book by Marion Cuningham)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square (or 9-inch round)
cake pan that is about 2-inches deep. Put the buttered dish or pan in
the oven and let it get hot while you mix the batter.
Put the eggs in a mixing bowl and add the melted butter. Beat until
the mixture is well blended. Add the sugar, salt, milk, and vinegar and
beat well. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking
powder and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, mix
just until the batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
Pour the batter into the heated dish, then pour the cream into the center of the batter—don’t stir. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm with maple syrup.

blue corn bread

Simply put, cornbread is delicious. It is the perfect “accompaniment” to countless soups, salads,
stews… especially chili. I love how cornbread is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory — with  crumbly, fluffy texture and sweet, buttery flavor in every bite. Why mess around with something so simple and perfect? This recipe is the most simple, straight-forward, fool-proof cornbread recipe out there. It’s delicious, so why fuss with it?
I picked up a bag of blue cornmeal on my service trip to Santa Fe, so this loaf brought with it many memories from my unforgettable trip. Blue corn is also known as Hopi maize and is grown primarily in the Southwestern United States. It is an essential ingredient in New Mexican cuisine. In addition to a beautiful, vibrant color, it has several nutritional perks as well — having 20% more protein and a lower GI than white corn. It also has a sweeter, nuttier taste.
blue cornmeal — all the way from Santa Fe!
I love to eat my cornbread with a big pat of coconut butter and a dollop of honey, and watch as the big, soft crumbs soak up the sweet, velvety goodness. This cornbread is exactly how I like it, crispy on the outside with a moist crumb inside.
Do you ever take ingredients home as souvenirs?
With love, 
Erica
crispy, brown edges
Ingredients
1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter 
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×9 inch baking dish. Mix cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Sift 3 times. Stir the eggs and milk into the cornmeal mixture.
Place the butter in the prepared baking dish, and melt in the preheated
oven. Mix hot, melted butter into the cornmeal mixture. Transfer
cornmeal mixture to the prepared baking dish.
Bake on center rack in the preheated oven for 30 to
35 minutes, until the edges of the cornbread pull away from the sides of
the dish, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let
cool 10 minutes before cutting. 
This
is most delicious straight out of the oven with a big, melty pat of
butter and some honey — but it keeps well covered in the fridge, and
makes a great quick breakfast or snack when warmed in the microwave!