The poolside barbecues, beach trips, and vacation dinners of the summer season are often seen as the ideal time of the year to share your best dishes with others, but as seen with this delicious cornbread recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a side dish has the potential to take center stage, if it’s prepared correctly.
Titled, “Perfect, Forever Cornbread,” this recipe is an intricate process that’s been achieved through decades of tweaking and balancing ingredients. What has resulted after 39 batches is an entree compliment that is perfect to pair with your summer salads, grilled meats, and other dishes.
This standout cornbread recipe has you cook your side dish loaf in a cast iron pan so that the edges of the resulting pieces are crunchy and the base of the dish rises evenly. The following recipe uses an 8-inch skillet, but a 9-inch skillet or 9-inch round cake pan can be used instead. Just be aware that the resulting bakes will be slightly thinner, so you should keep an active watch over the cornbread in the oven, particularly at the 25-minute mark.
Ingredients for Summer Cornbread:
½ cup of cold, unsalted butter (approximately 4 oz)
1 cup of fresh or frozen corn kernels
3 tablespoons of light brown or granulated sugar (40 grams)
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1 cup of cold, well-shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of cornmeal
- Begin the summer cornbread cooking process by preheating your oven to 400°F. While heating, you will cut your butter into chunks the size of half-dollars and place them in an 8-inch cast iron skillet. If not using a cast-iron, you can use another oven-proof skillet. Once the oven is properly heated, place your skillet into the oven just until the butter melts. Remove the pan afterward, leave the oven on, and set the butter aside.
- Using a blender or food processor, blend together your sugar, salt, and corn until the combination is well-chopped. While the machine is running, pour in your cup of cold, well-shaken buttermilk.
- Roll your cornbread mixture against the sides and bottom of the skillet to fully coat it in butter, though don’t let the cornbread mixture absorb all of the butter, as you’ll need to reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons for later. After reserving those couple of tablespoons of butter and setting it aside, add your eggs to the blender or food processor and blend to combine.
- Add your baking powder and baking soda, and similarly blend well. Afterward, scrape down the sides and add your cornmeal and flour. Blend it all together just so that it’s combined, but not fully liquified.
- As your 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter are spread evenly on the bottom of the cast-iron skillet, pour your batter onto the buttered surface and use a spoon or similar cooking utensil to spread it flat. Any extra butter will simply roll over the top.
- As your oven is properly heated, place your skillet onto the middle rack and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. You will be able to tell that it’s finished cooking when you can insert a toothpick into the center of the cornbread and have it emerge completely clean without any breadlike residue.
- Serve your cornbread by dividing the skillet’s contents into wedges or squares. For added flavor, you can spread a fine layer of melted or salted butter atop the pieces or drizzle honey for sweeter flavor notes.
One of the best aspects of cooking cornbread is its second life as leftovers as the remaining squares can keep fresh for two days at room temperature. If keeping longer than a couple of days, place your cornbread into the refrigerator, especially in the summertime. Reheat the cornbread by placing your piece(s) in the microwave for a brief rotation period or wrap them in aluminum foil and place it in a 350°F oven for the best texture.
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