Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buttermilk Cornbread

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My daughter Cecily spent a year in Italy and I was fortunate enough to visit her and be hosted by her Italian family who cooked me amazing home cooked meals, an experience that I will never forget. 

You are probably wondering “What does this have to do with cornbread?”

Cecily baked a pan of cornbread for her Italian family and it instantly became a favorite.  Hummm, Really?  Cornbread?  It apparently was a new and amazing taste that they were familiar with yet not familiar with.  They couldn’t get enough of it.

I suppose that the cornbread was a tasty twist on polenta, or maybe polenta cake.  Italians love their cornmeal.

I found that to be incredibly entertaining, considering the five or six course Italian meals that they lavished upon me.   Aperitivo (appetizer), Primo (pasta), Secondo (main dish), Contorno (salad), Formaggio e frutta (cheese & fruit), Dolce (dessert) and Caffè (coffee).

In my experience with many cornbread attempts I’ve found that the magic to a tasty cornbread is to mix the melted butter into the dry mix allowing the dry ingredients to absorb the flavor of the butter evenly distributing a moist burst of buttery flavor throughout the cornbread.  Not to forget the importance of the buttermilk that adds the moistness to the bread.

Cornbread is composed of such simple ingredients and is easy to mess up, too dry, or wet with not enough body to hold the butter that your guest need to slather on as you pass it around the table, completely unaware of the butter that lies deep within the cornbread.

In my opinion a good cornbread has a firm yet tender texture that holds together, allowing the subtle graininess of the cornmeal to hold up to the buttery flavor.  The trick is in the way that you put the simple ingredients together rather than the ingredients itself.

BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD
DRY INGREDIENTS:
1              cup         flour
½             cup         sugar
¾             cup         yellow cornmeal
½             tsp.        baking soda
½             tsp.        salt

WET INGREDIENTS:
½             cup         butter, melted
1              cup         buttermilk
2              large      eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter or spray non-stick coating in an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter.
Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to blend.
Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and stir to coat dry ingredients evenly with butter.
Add buttermilk and eggs and mix to blend.  Don’t over mix, a few small lumps are ok.
Pour batter into the greased 8 X 8 pan and spread to even out.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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