I made cornbread to go with chili for last Sunday’s dinner (chili is possibly my husband’s favourite thing to eat, ever) and the next day, after packing some of the leftovers for my husband’s lunch and slathering a piece with almond butter and jam for my daughter’s breakfast, this little foil-wrapped square was all that was left for my lunch. It was not enough; I remember wanting more.
Butter fans, turn away now because the following news will probably alienate you: in making this cornbread, I eschewed butter and made it with my favourite fat to cook and bake with, extra virgin olive oil. Using olive oil infuses the cornbread with a rich flavour that complements the sweetness of cornmeal. If you like the flavour that extra virgin olive oil brings to baked goods, then you will like this twist to cornbread. The next time you bake a batch using your favourite recipe, simply replace the melted butter with olive oil and transform your cornbread into an elegant version of its former self.
When I see cornbread recipes that call for a whole stick of melted butter, I just don’t get it. Cornbread doesn’t need a bucket of fat to make it taste good. I’ve tasted great cornbread made with just a few tablespoonfuls of fat and now I can’t bring myself to pour in a stick of melted butter when I make it at home.
The key to good cornbread is to ensure it is moist and not dry and crumbly; and the key to moist cornbread, I find, is buttermilk. Oh, and don’t ever ever EVER! over bake it. I always start testing for doneness at least five minutes before the stipulated time.
These are the cornbread recipes on my tried and true list that I rotate depending on what I feel like having on the day of baking: Jalapeno Cornbread (via Epicurious), Cathy Justice’s Best of Show Blue Ribbon Cornbread (via Dorie Greenspan’s website), and Dorie Greenspan’s Corniest Corn Muffins (baked in a square dish with half the stated amount of sugar).
We love cornbread around here. I should probably bake it more often; it’s so quick and easy to whip up and makes for a perfect side to stews and soups. And it is such a treat to be able to have leftovers for breakfast. With the exception of a dry overbaked one, there can be no bad cornbread in my book.