Lucky number four

You very kind people, you.  I’ve been floating along on your hoorays and high-fives all week.  Thank you friends, really, just thank you so much.  Now of course, the real work begins.  Away we go!  You do know you’re coming with me, right?  A few of you were in touch to ask if I’ll be taking a break from this site while I write the book (including my mother-in-law; hi, Sarah!) and the answer is a resounding Noooooo!  It’s the dissertating and the teaching (and all of the administrative pleasantries that go along with that) that I’ll be stepping away from for the year.  This blog is where I come to practice, to try stuff out, to write and cook my heart out and unwind for heaven’s sake.  It’s my workshop.  Don’t tell my editor, but I’m not even sure I know how to write a book.  (“And, how?” might have been a more fitting way to punctuate the title of my last post.)  But I do know that kicking myself out of my own workshop is exactly how not to do it.  So there you go.  You’re stuck with me.

With loony old cornbread-loving me, who is about to fill your bellies with yet another cornbread, the fourth on this site in not even as many years.  Send help.  Or, be a good sport and send honey, and jam and, I don’t know, maybe some fresh berries.  We’ll call it a meal. 

Lucky number four is from a book called The Homemade Pantry that came out last spring.  I bet a lot of you have heard of it by now.  Or maybe you know the author, Alana Chernila, from her blog, Eating from the Ground Up.  I love Alana’s voice and what she does with it, and when she writes about fruit bowls and buzzing cells I want to reach through my screen and squeeze her.  Alana does this thing when she’s writing personally – which is pretty much always – that’s pure magic.  It’s as if she’s facing inward and outward at the same time.  Does that make sense?  Spend a few minutes with Alana’s words and I think you’ll see what I mean.  She has a daughter named Rosie who cuts her own bangs, and another named Sadie, a Lance Armstrong in-the-making (goooo, Sadie!), and a husband, and a sister, and also her parents (am I missing anyone, Alana?) all sharing one seriously inspiring kitchen.  On her blog and in her book, Alana welcomes us in and shows us around.  I forgot to mention the subtitle of the book, so here it is:  101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making.  That includes butter and hot sauce, mustard and crème fraiche; there are chapters on soup and pasta and crackers and candy (this woman makes her own fruit rollups, people!) and canned things, and frozen things – she’s covered it all.  I’d say that I didn’t know where to begin except for that, of course, I did, when I saw she had a recipe for cornbread in there.

I’ve been looking for a first-rate classic cornbread for a while which, for me, meant something deeply corny, mildly sweet, and not too cakey.  This cornbread is all of these things.  It’s sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar, and when it came out of the oven smelling like a hot syrup-drenched pancake I worried that it would taste all wrong.  But nope, it tasted just right, like cornbread, not like a pancake at all.  The maple syrup that hovers so heavily over the bread as it cools slips quietly out the back door when no one’s looking, leaving only a faint, warm sweetness behind.  I don’t play favorites, but I will tell you that with a minimal amount of stirring and only twenty minutes in the oven, this one might be the handiest of the bunch.  No offense to breads one through three. 

Maple-Scented Cornbread
Adapted from The Homemade Pantry, by Alana Chernila

I baked this bread in a 9-inch round baking pan, but you can also use an 8-inch square one. 

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted.
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4.75 ounces) medium-grind yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup maple syrup

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and butter a 9-inch round baking pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. 

Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, add the buttermilk, maple syrup, and melted butter, and whisk some more until uniform.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and give it a few stirs, just until the batter comes together.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cornbread pulls away from the sides of the pan, the top is lightly brown, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean – or with just a crumb or two.

Cool completely in the pan.

Serves 6-8.


Hannah said...

And here in one post, my two favorite food bloggers side by side - you have created an epic grin here in CA! I am pretty sure that Alana has cornered the market on Zen-mommy-bloggers-who-cook-amazing-meals - her cookbook lives on my counter, not my shelf, because I use it EVERY DAY. As for you, lady, I have made cornbreads 1-3 (the skillet one is a favorite here, I am still wondering about the Hi-Rise though - I want to love it but can't seem to get it right!!)-- so you just keep them right on coming. I get a thrill from being part of your workshop. This post has officially made my night :)

talley said...

I love your perseverance! I hope there are 4 more cornbread recipes coming our way. We wouldn't want to settle on a go-to too early in the cornbread-making game now would we? Enjoy the respite from academics and the joy of cooking. Looking forward to being part of your "workshop".

jacqui | happyjackeats said...

Look, I'm not gonna lie: Cornbreads One through Three didn't get me too excited. But Four. Helloooo Four. Happy Friday, Jess!

Gemma said...

Smelling like a hot syrup-drenched pancake? I'm sold.

Judy said...

Time to come out of the woodwork - I have been reading for years! I love so many of your recipes and have made many of them many times. But today I decided to write because it is the first time I made a recipe within hours of your posting it (although I don't quote me on that...). And it is a delightful cornbread.

(I'm in the Wexner class you welcome to Columbus 4 years ago.)

Anonymous said...

How funny that you (probably unintentionally) cited Lance Armstrong on the day when he officially ceded to the doping accusations! I'm sure that little Sadie will excel in cycling by her own determination, free from the interference of chemicals.

Jess said...

Hannah - Isn't Alana dreamy?? Sometimes I secretly wish that she were my sister, or maybe even my mom... though getting to be her friend is pretty great, too. (And we haven't even met in person yet!) About the Hi-Rise bread: Oh no! I wish I could come over and troubleshoot with you. What seems to be the trouble? (If you'd prefer, shoot me an e-mail.)

talley - Careful what you wish for, my friend. (Just kidding. There are no more cornbreads coming down the pike. At least not that I know of...)

Jacqui - All you need is one, right? Unless you're me, it seems. But wait a minute, what about that custard-filled cornbread? That has Jacqui all over it, no?

Gemma - Right?!

Judy - Helloooo there! I'm so glad you spoke up. Thanks for that, and for reading all of these years. I love that feeling of finding a recipe, realizing that you have both the will and the way (meaning, all of the ingredients on hand) and immediately getting down to business. Happy to hear you enjoyed.

Anonymous - I know. I read the news this morning and it just about broke my heart. Have you seen Lance Armstrong's official statement? (Click HERE.) I don't know what to believe. I almost went in and edited the Lance Armstrong reference out of this post, but I decided to keep it in the end. Yes, Sadie, pedal on. But just say no!

la domestique said...

I am a big fan of sweet cornbread, so you can make it as often as you like and I'll never tire of seeing it here. My sister has a birthday coming up, and she's taken a keen interest in making staples from scratch, so I'm planning on getting her Alana's book.

Kelly Carambula said...

whoa—yum! i'm so intrigued by the maple syrup... will have to try this weekend.

Jess said...

la domestique - And then have her invite you over for dinner, right? Cookbooks make the best birthday gifts...

Kelly - Enjoy!