Thursday, January 15, 2009

Scratch Cornbread

I have students all at different skill levels. So, I felt I needed to give instructions for making a nice cornbread. A lot of recipes call for this method of mixing called the muffin method. It is basically combining the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. In culinary school the instructor said "you always pour the WET over the DRY". Always. So that is the rule I follow.

Muffin Method is a basic skill, and one I think everyone should have. Ever since public schools started taking Home Economics off the curriculum, it isn't surprising that a lot of folks don't have even basic cooking skills. Not everyone had a mom like mine who has a bachelors degree in Home Economics education. Most of the young mothers I teach are anxious to try new recipes and improve their cooking skills. So if you are one of the beginners, here's the play by play on homemade cornbread...

Cornbread from scratch is nice for a few reasons. One, it is cheaper than heck. What do I mean By cheap? It may not seem so cheap at first since you need to have flour and cornmeal on hand, but in the long run, the 3-5 dollars it takes to stock your cupboard with them is cheaper. I made this huge batch of cornbread for around 25 cents. The little blue boxes on sale are sometimes 25 cents, but don't make even near the amount of cornbread as this recipe does! Second, I can control the ingredients so I know there isn't any added chemicals. Third, It doubles for dinner or breakfast.

For breakfast, try it drizzled in honey or maple syrup.
For dinner, try it with beans or stew.

On to the Muffin Method...
Corn Bread (recipe from Aunt Jemima's cornmeal bag)
Turn on your oven to 425 degrees.
Get two different bowls.

Combine dry ingredients [do this in a large bowl, 2 quart works great]:
2 cup corn meal
2 cup flour (I prefer white wheat flour) (Do I need to show how to measure flour?)
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar

Combine wet ingredients [This bowl can be smaller, like a large cereal bowl]:
2 egg, beaten (may use 1/2 cup egg beaters or whites for no chol.)
2 cup sour milk or buttermilk (yes you can use regular milk or water instead)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Pour liquid all at once into the dry ingredients.
Blend with no more than 25 strokes so you will have a tender loaf. The mixture will be combined but not smooth. Also, be sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl. This is best done by hand instead of a machine.
Pour batter into a 9 by 13 inch pan. I use a stoneware pan. I love a crispy crust on the bottom of my cornbread. Bake 25-30 minutes.

Test doneness by inserting a skewer or cake tester. If it comes out without batter on it, then the bread is done. If not, put back in the oven for 5 or 6 minutes.

Look at my nice crispy crust...

Serve warm with beans or a little butter and honey. It's excellent with blueberry sauce believe it or not. I hope this helps!


Salsa Mama said...

OK, how DO you measure your flour?

Chef Tess said...

You know as soon as I typed that about measuring flour, I realized there would be someone who needed it. Ahh Salsa Mama! I lightly scoop it into the cup, filling it over the top and then take a butter knife, flat side down and scrape off the extra so it is completely flat. Keep it airy and light...don't whack it on a counter top to make it fit into the cup. Don't tap it or pack it in there. Use a measuring cup that isn't clear glass, those are usually for liquid measure. Use the cup that says 1 cup (only). Hope that helps! Thanks for asking...I love it when people are honest. It's the only way we all learn. Right? Come back again!

Melissa said...

I loved the texture of the cornbread, but it wasn't quite as sweet as I like it. I think next time I'll add a little more sugar. Thanks for a good base recipe that I can make my own. :)

Chef Tess said...

Oh you're so welcome. Seriously you can add more sweet. I like mine less sweet and this is a more traditional Southern style.

Dee said...

Dear Chef Tess, Is it 1/4 CUP of veg oil? Thank you!

Chef Tess said...

Yes. 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

jdm6of18 said...

If this is a duplicate comment, please delete! Somehow my question disappeared...low tech skills!

This is excellent cornbread. I am making up emergency grab & go buckets and want to include this.

My doubled, mylar bag version:
4 c cornmeal, 4 c flour, 2 c sugar (I like it sweet), 2 tsp salt, 4 tbsp baking powder, 4 tbsp Honeyville powdered eggs, 1/2 c Honeyville powdered buttermilk, 1/4 c Honeyville powdered shortening.

This made up about 3 qts dry mix, so my water calculation is 1 cup water to 1 qt dry mix.

What did I calculate wrong? When I made up my test batch, it seemed that I had to double the water to get the right consistency.

With double water, they came out light and delicious. Since I was using a tabletop oven, I used 400 degrees, next time will lower still to 375.

Thanks Stephanie for double checking my calculations. Haven't used powdered eggs in 40 years, and never used powdered shortening before. Very nice cornbread recipe, Janice

Chef Tess said...

For the mix, you'll need 1/2 cup egg powder for a double batch. Because you're not getting the liquid from the addition of the eggs, you'll need to increase the water. It should be 1/4 cup of water per egg so you'll need 1 cup water to replace the eggs along with the water called for to prepare the cornbread from the original recipe. Xoxo! Lots of love! How cool is it that you're using your food storage?!!