Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Corn, corn, corn!

Julie's cornbread recipe in my wonderful recipe book (that you all put together for me ... thank you again!) got me started on a cornbread kick that I've been playing around with for several weeks now. For the first attempt I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe as provided. While good I thought it was a little too dry and the flavor not as pronounced as it could be. On the next round I used another friend's recipe that called for more butter and canned creamed corn as well as white sugar instead of brown sugar and 4 eggs instead of 2 and no baking soda. Better in terms of flavor, but it rose too much (overflowed actually), and still not perfect . On the next round I used fresh corn (parboiled for 3 min in salted water and shucked) which I then soaked in fresh cream for about 10 minutes before adding to the mix and omitted the buttermilk from the first recipe in lieu of the cream. I cut the eggs back down to 2 and hand mixed instead of using a KitchenAid. And I salted a little more than the recipe called for. Even better, but still too crumbly, still not as moist as it could be, and still too much rising. On this last round (which I made using fresh corn from Chino Family Farms), I added back some baking soda, I used one stick of butter to cream with the sugar and then melted the second stick and mixed it in right at the end (like the Cook's Illustrated recipe does) and using inspiration from Hesser's Almond Torte which is a huge favorite in our house, I added a dollop or two of sour cream. Voila. It rose perfectly, browned beautifully, tasted wonderful, and held together which is so important for spreading honey butter! Plus, the next day leftovers straight out of the fridge were absolutely delicious.

Mix 1 and 1/2 cups of flour (I'm now using half Wondra and half all-purpose), 1 cup corn meal, 2 tsps baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda and 1 and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.

Take 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups fresh or canned corn and add about a cup of fresh cream. Let sit.

Cream 1 stick of butter and 3/4 to 1 cup sugar. Add 2 eggs and mix. Add cream and corn. Add a dollop or two of sour cream. Add dry ingredients and mix to just combine. Take another stick of melted butter (if you use microwave, do it when you begin so its not too hot when you add to the batter), and swirl into your batter.

Melt some butter in a cast iron pan and add batter. Then transfer to a preheated 400 degree oven. I like the melted butter in the cast iron as I think it makes for a really nice all around crust. But you can also make in a glass pyrex and not worry about heating it up -- just add batter and bring to oven. I probably cook it for about a half hour ... but not positive. I take it out when its set and golden brown.

Serve with fresh whipped honey or maple butter.


Blogger Julie said...

I LOVE that you did so many iterations like your own little Cooks Illustrated experiment! Though Chino Farms has such amazing produce it definitely gives that batch a huge advantage!! Can't wait to try your version.

25 August, 2009 22:29  
Blogger Kaoru said...

I love that you used TWO sticks of butter in your cornbread. Julia Child would be proud of you!

26 August, 2009 00:12  
Blogger Elaine said...

what did you serve with your cornbread? is this a dessert or a side? or both?

26 August, 2009 20:55  
Blogger Jerilyn said...

I serve as a side when making something on the grill. I've been making a lot of corn salad this summer too (corn, red onion, jicama, black beans, hearts of palm, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice ... mix it all up and serve several hours later in the day or the next day).

On the butter, here is how I make internal peace with it ... each pan is divided into 16 pieces and with 8 tbls per stick of butter that means that each slice of bread has 1 tbls of butter. I figure that isn't so bad as its only about 100 calories :-)

A dessert I've been doing a lot too is fresh berries with mascarpone that has been hand whipped with some honey and sugar and topped with balsamic glaze. Very nice with summer fruit.

27 August, 2009 10:18  
Blogger Julie said...

A friend served us greek yogurt with lemon curd and honey over fruit last week at their house and it was divine. The lemony brightness was perfect over the fruit!

30 August, 2009 16:20  
Blogger Jerilyn said...

I made again this weekend using canned corn. Yuck. So not the same. If you can't use fresh, go with frozen.

K: why is canned corn so rubbery? I bought the most expensive Del Monte brand and still found it not very good.

31 August, 2009 10:39  
Blogger Julie said...

For almost all veggies I find frozen vegetables to be far superior to canned. True for peas, corn, carrots, artichoke hearts, green beans. I don't know why (Kaoru?) but maybe because they aren't cooked so long? Frozen peas and corn are staples in my freezer.

01 September, 2009 22:27  
Blogger Jerilyn said...

This recipe was on Julie's favorite blog (Smitten Kitchen). It doesn't use butter in the batter. I will have to try it!

There is a lot in this post about The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook. Do any of you have it? If so, do you like it?

Thin, Crispy Corn Bread
Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 tablespoon lard or unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups whole or lowfat buttermilk (whole is preferred, here’s how you can make your own)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 12-inch skillet with one tablespoon of the lard or butter, leaving any excess in the pan, and place it in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg until frothy and then whisk in the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix thoroughly. Melt the remaining butter in a small skill (or your microwave) and whisk the butter into your batter.

While the fat in the large skillet is smoking, carefully remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the fat around to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Pour the batter into the skillet; it should “sizzle alluringly”, says the Lee Brothers. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top of the bread is golden brown and the edge has pulled away from the side of the skillet. Remove from the oven and either serve hot, in six wedges, or let cool and reserve for Corn Bread Salad (above).

11 September, 2009 17:18  

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