Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Cornbread Trials: Pt 2 - Food & Wine

After this, my sophomore foray into the world of cornbread, I felt a general buzz of confidence. I've messed up my fair share of pies, pastries, etc., so a 2 & 0 for edible product might have gone to my head. That, of course, didn't last long.

The day after I made this second cornbread, from a recipe in Food & Wine's February 2008 issue, a co-worker of mine showed up with a gigantic loaf of red pepper/cayenne cornbread that pretty much made me weep. Moist, spicy, light...sigh. It's just more proof that these cornbread trials may have a ways to go.

Here's the Food & Wine details:

Toasted Cornmeal Corn Bread
2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp kosher salt
1.5 cups whole milk
2/3 cup honey, warmed
2 large eggs, beaten
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Oil a 9x13 inch pan. In a medium skillet, toast the cornmeal overly moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the milk with the honey and eggs. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and whisk until moistened. Add the butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 30 minutes until golden.

The opening blurb to the recipe reads: "Toasting the cornmeal first gives the corn bread a heartier flavour." Well, if it did, I didn't notice, 'cause a 2/3 cup of honey IS A LOT OF HONEY. Well, at least for a cornbread.

For the most part, the sweetness caught us a bit off guard, and this cornbread really ended up being alot more like a loaf than anything you would have as a side. It would go well with a spicy main, but probably too filling to be a side in most meals. Unless, of course, you can pack that shizz away (hot dog eating champ, I'm lookin' at you). I'd either cut the honey by a half next time, or use the recipe for cornmeal muffins.

The coarseness of the cornmeal does take abit of getting used to. I gave my co-worker a sample, and the bite-i-ness of it took her aback. It does make the cornbread more dense and substantial, so changing to a fine grain might be another way to make this cornbread a bit less of a grandstand on the table.

One note: the butter. Oh, man: the butter. There's just no understatement of how far a bit (or a lot) of butter can take any type of baking, and we really noticed the difference with this cornbread. It was just perfectly moist, but after hearing that my co-worker puts sour cream in her cornbread, I'm curious to see how much further I can take this.

Anyway, here's what I was listening to when I made this:
Ballin' Jack - "Found a Child" (specifically, that break at 2:11, which I could put on repeat all day)

As an endnote, it's funny to compare issues of Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Gourmet through the past two years. Has anyone else noticed how skimpy these magazines have gotten? Eat Me Daily has. Ad pages were down in the latter two magazines by 40% and 51.9%, respectively. That's a huge drop, and not a good sign for an industry that's been at a crossroads. But why the heck is Conde Nast running two competing magazines, anyway? Just sayin'. 'Course, if Bon Appetit continues to run awesome pieces like this David Chang (Momofuku) comic, I'd be really disappointed to see it go.

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