Bread of the Month: Crafting a creamy cornbread

corn01[I] believe in good recipes, ,those tried-and-true reliables we turn to when we want something we know we can count on. I have a few of these now in the cornbread realm, but, I’ll be honest, when it comes to cornbread, I’m always open to a new variation or version. Next to biscuits, cornbread is my favorite bread.

I’ll take it sweet or savory, corny or more subtle, layered with herbs, cheese or extras, firm and dry or moist and creamy. I love it all, probably because I love corn. I think cornbread goes with everything and is good enough on its own.

corn02I ran across a cornbread recipe that was irresistible. In the February issue of Saveur magazine. It had every ingredient I could not refuse — onions, sour cream, creamed corn, cheddar cheese, and it promised to bake up to such a beautifully moist and flavorful bread, that I salivated just reading about. It was an offering from a renowned Southern lifestyle guru named Lee Bailey, a Louisiana-born cookbook author and photographer who came on the scene in the 1980s and passed away in 2003. Bailey offered lifestyle and cooking tips in such books as “Country Weekends” and “Country Desserts” and was one of the first foodies obsessed with photographing cuisine in a more natural way. To read more about Bailey in Saveur, go here .

corn03 Corn is the star of this recipe, between the cornmeal-only main dry ingredient to the full can of rich, sweet creamed corn, and the other ingredients only support it and the impending moistness that can be the only outcome in such a recipe.

Grated onion, oil, eggs and sour cream join the corn in the wet base that the cornmeal baking powder and salt join for the batter. A whole cup of cheddar cheese is layered in and also sprinkled on top.

It smells heavenly while baking and is pretty enough for a picture when it comes out of the oven. Densely moist with a crisp to chewy crust, it is both tangy and sweet and slightly crumbly. It was wonderfully buttery without butter…that’s what corn does (and maybe why I love it so). Still, I added a little butter to it before eating. That’s what you do to cornbread, no matter what.

I made the cornbread to join a delightful spring dinner of Shrimp in Green Sauce (recipe to come) and roasted asparagus, but I am not ashamed to say that I ate the cornbread the next morning with the slightest drizzle of honey for a simple breakfast.corn05

Lee Bailey’s Sour Cream Cornbread
From Saveur magazine
Makes 8 to 10 servings

2⁄3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 medium yellow onion, grated
1 (16-oz.) can creamed corn
1 1⁄2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (about 5 oz.) grated cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 350° and grease a 9-inch round cast-iron skillet. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil with the sour cream, eggs, onion, and corn until evenly combined. In another bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until they form a slightly lumpy batter.

Scrape half the batter into the prepared skillet, sprinkle with 3⁄4 cup cheese, and spread the remaining batter on top. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a rack and let the cornbread cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Blogger’s Note: Given the moist texture of this cornbread, it is recommended that any leftovers be refrigerated.

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