Tuesday, July 24, 2018


I've heard that cracks are often a sign that you're doing something wrong. Or maybe that's just when it comes to cheesecake. Anyway, this cornbread is from an AllRecipes.com recipe:

I didn't have true cornmeal; all I had was polenta (which some people call "cornmeal," but based on some reading/looking around, it's obvious that not everyone agrees on the nomenclature). I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 and was able to make one large cake-pan-ful and two small cake-pan-fuls of cornbread. Since I've made these rather early in the week, I plan to tip them out and wrap them in cling film, then store them in airtight Ziploc bags until the appointed hour. On Friday, I'll likely reheat them a bit in the microwave and ask a coworker to use a basting brush to paint them with melted butter. You know—to make them healthier.

As you see, I cut out a piece and tried it with butter. It wasn't particularly memorable, but it certainly wasn't bad. Next time around, I'll add a bit more sugar and butter to the mix, and maybe another egg. The top of the bread is quite suntanned, but nothing's been burned. I won't win any points on aesthetics, but I think the crowd will munch the bread down (preferably with chili) all the same.


Charles said...

Soda breads (of which cornbread is a variety) crack--it's all part of the aesthetic. (For that matter, baked cheesecakes crack, too, but they will settle down again after cooling, generally closing up the cracks.)

And on the aesthetic note, that bread looks fine. I don't like sweet cornbread (too cloying for me), so I probably wouldn't add more sugar, but to each his own. If you're looking for more flavor, a little more butter might help, but be wary of throwing the proportions too far out of whack. I would not add another egg, primarily for textural reasons, but also because I don't think what you are looking for in a cornbread is a strong eggy flavor. If I were really looking to kick things up a notch, I would go spicy rather than sweet--add some jalapenos to the mix.

As far as the polenta/cornmeal debate... meh. There is a difference, but mainly in that "polenta" is not a type of cornmeal, it's the name of a preparation. You're also supposed to use a specific type of corn for polenta, too, I think. But polenta is basically medium-to-coarse cornmeal.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks for the reassurance re: cracks. And I do kind of like the coarser feel to the cornbread that comes from using polenta.

Too bad you don't like sweet cornbread. Costco's house brand, Kirkland, has an awesome boxed cornbread mix to which you add very little (eggs and maybe something else, like oil), and the results are—for a sweet-tooth like me—nothing short of heavenly. But that bread would, it sounds like, be way too sweet for you.

re: eggs

When we're baking cakes, I thought the rule of thumb was more eggs = more moisture (to an extent, of course: too many eggs, and you've got quiche). What I did was take the AllRecipes recipe, multiply it by 1.5, then add in an extra egg beyond the 1.5-ing. Part of the reason why I did this, though, was that, when I cracked in the first three eggs, half of the white of one egg turned out to be frozen solid from sitting at the back of the fridge (lesson learned). I pulled out the frozen chunk, thought to myself that there now wasn't enough egg in the mix, and added a fourth egg.

To sum up: the original recipe called for 2 eggs; because I was 1.5-ing it, I put in 3 eggs, but because one egg was a half-frozen mutant, I added a fourth. In the end, there were 4 yolks and maybe 3.5 whites, not quite doubling the original number of eggs. And maybe it was the polenta's rough texture, but I didn't think the final cornbread was all that much moister.

Charles said...

It's the fat content of the eggs that makes cakes moister, so if all you're looking for is some extra moistness, I would say just up the fat content. One thing to know about fats when baking is that butter will produce a final product that firms up when cold, while vegetable oil produces a final product that stays soft and moist. But butter adds flavor that vegetable oil doesn't have, and if you're going to serve the bread warm, I would definitely go with butter.

As for sweet cornbread, I can't say that I've never had a sweet cornbread I liked (double negative!), but I do have an upper threshold for tolerance of sweetness. (Even as a kid, I never liked super sweet stuff.) But sugar in cornbread will make for a crispier crust, in my experience, so a little sugar can be worth it.

Kevin Kim said...

Makes sense.

I'm going to try to serve the cornbread warm (and with a honey drizzle). Wish I had a Dutch oven. Or a toaster oven.