Corn bread is a year 'round companion to meals in my house. This long time staple of the American table is especially enjoyable during the cool months as it accompanies soups, stews, and chili. I even use it in my Thanksgiving dressing. There are many versions out there from sweet to savory to spicy, and I have a few of my own, but this is my go-to version.
I grew up eating the sweet stuff. In fact, most of the time Mom made the Jiffy mix and, I have to admit, it was good. But nowadays, I try to avoid pre-packaged foods and mixes. I like knowing where all my ingredients come from and the satisfaction of it being homemade.
In this recipe, I use equal amounts of flour and cornmeal. I also use a mixture of whole milk and vinegar for a buttermilk effect. Why don't I use buttermilk, you ask? I can't find full fat buttermilk and I like the richness from the fat in the milk. I only eat one piece, so I can afford it:) You can use melted butter or vegetable oil depending on your preference. Lastly, after mixing the ingredients, I allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes (a trick I learned from the back of the box). Here's why with some proof. Letting the mixture rest does two things. 1. It allows the leavening agents to react. 2. It allows the cornmeal to absorb the moisture from the wet ingredients. Once you pour it into the prepared pan, you will notice that instead of a wet batter, the mixture will be more spongy and airy. This also produces a tender crumb. To show you that my previous statements are more than just theory, I made two batches; one with the rest and one without. I also tested the baking temperature and time.
The cornbread on the left was allowed to rest and baked at 425º F. The cornbread on the right did not rest and was baked at 400º F. As you can see, the cornbread on the left is taller, has a lighter crumb, and the color is deeper due to the five minute rest and higher baking temperature. I'll take that one with a shmear of butter, please!
Sweet Corn Bread
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1 Tablespoon white distilled vinegar
1 extra large egg at room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted; or 1/4 cup vegetable oil
In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar; set aside for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425º F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with non-stick baking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk mixture, egg, and butter (or oil if using). Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix just until combined. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert the pan onto a wire rack to release the corn bread. Invert the cornbread to a cutting surface. Cut into 9 squares; serve warm with butter. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from the back of Quaker Yellow Cornmeal