When I was a kid, I didn’t care so very much for cornbread. To me, it always tasted like someone dropped it out on the driveway and it was full of “pea gravel”. It didn’t have much flavor, and about the only kind I had ever known was made from a box of Jiffy mix. Once out on my own, I started to play with these boring boxes trying to improve them. I added nice flavors of all kinds from cheesy jalapeño, to sweet ‘n spicy, but that “gravel” texture was always still there. The only thing to do was to make it homemade.
Some of the cornmeals I tried were just as gritty as the boxed kind and I almost gave up! Then I tried Indian Head and it wasn’t NEAR the coarse grind as the rest. It still will give you that “cornbread” texture that you love, but just not as harsh and grainy to the teeth. The grind seems, to me anyways, to be much finer and I really like it so much better! I think it makes the cornbread much more tender and actually a bit more like cake! Somewhere in the middle I guess.
Another thing that I’ve come to learn about and LOVE using is cast iron pans!! These babies can cook and bake just about anything, and taken care of, will last many generations and outlive me, that’s for sure! They’re actually really easy to take care of if you know a few tricks! Once well seasoned, (cooked with a lot), nothing sticks to it, either! And if something does a bit, or is just “gunky” on there, simply sprinkle it with salt to miraculously scrub it right off like magic! Cast iron is perfect for this too, because it’s the best for even heating throughout. That’s why it works so well for baking! 😉
Moistness was another pet peeve I had about cornbread. Most were always so dry that no wonder you had to drown them with butter and honey just to be able to swallow a bite without choking! I’ve found that the secret, believe it or not, is to use water versus milk, cream, half and half, or buttermilk. (I’ve tried them all!) Water gave the very best results and there was no flavor difference whatsoever. I then upped it even more, and added a shredded apple to the batter. You wanna talk about super moist and flavorful! Holy cow! Add some “apple pie” spices and the last piece is seriously worth fighting for!
And just look how purdy! Now THAT’S some good lookin’ cornbread!! Tall, moist, sweet, delicate, a little spice and a nice apple flavor! A much needed slice of sunshine during this deep freeze, lemme tell ya!! It’s been so cold here it hurts!
So do please give my cornbread a try! The texture, sweetness, moistness, and flavor is knee-weakening good, and a little butter and a bit of honey will make your eyes roll back in your head! (Don’t worry, unlike what your mama told you, they won’t stay like that.)
Enjoy all, and be sure to fix a pot of my Hearty Ham ‘n Bean Soup to go with! Have fantastic day and bundle up! ‘Cause Baby, it’s c-c-c-cold outside!!!!!
SWEET SOUTHERN APPLE SPICED CORNBREAD
Makes 1 – 10 1/2″ Cast Iron “Chicken Fryer” Skillet-full (Or 2 – 9″ deep dish pie plates-full, or one 13×9 pan)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 extra-large eggs, room temp
2 cups water
2 cups Indian Head Old Fashioned Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal
2 cups flour
1 Tbl. fresh baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (mine includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice)
1 Red or Golden Delicious apple, peeled and coarsely grated up to core, (discard core or toss for the birds)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray the inside of 10 1/2″ cast iron deep chicken fryer with butter-flavored cooking spray. (*Or 2 – 9″ deep dish pie plates or one 13×9 pan.) Set aside.
In large mixer bowl, beat sugar and butter. Scrape sides and bottom, add vanilla and beat again until well blended.
Beat in eggs until very well blended. Beat in water and cornmeal, scraping bowl as needed to make sure all is incorporated.
Sift, or whisk well to mix, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and Pumpkin Pie Spice into medium bowl.
Add to batter with the grated apple, and mix until just blended and moistened but still lumpy. DON’T over mix.
Pour batter into prepared pan (or pans) of choice, scraping with a spatula to add all.
*For one large cast iron pan, bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 8-10 minutes longer until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
**13×9 pans and 9″ deep dish pie plates only take about 35 minutes at 400 using the toothpick doneness test as well.
Let cool almost completely before serving. Pieces can be rewarmed in the microwave.
Serve warm with soft butter and honey if desired.
Store covered tightly at room temperature. Even better the next day!