I have made cornbread six times in the last two weeks and I thought I was going to say “this is my last corn bread for a while” But, I know it’s not. I made two cornbread pans with an enriched cornmeal, and then I purchased corn meal from the guy at the farmer’s market that ground it himself. White, Yellow and Blue. And, I was driven to dig into cornbread, trying to figure out why my husband’s grandmother, aptly called Mema (pronounced meemaw), would eat corn bread every night for dinner, made in a cast iron skillet, inside a wood burning stove. And, D.C. said it tasted just as homey and good as it sounds.
The first answer, of course, was that they grew their own corn. But, I think the second answer would be a corn bread addiction. I never made corn bread in my life, but one slice was leading to the next slice to the next pan. Perhaps, it’s the sweetness of the corn, although in true East Tennessee tradition, I barely added sugar. Perhaps it’s the texture, chewy, crispy bottom, moist and crumbly on the inside. And, there is a third reason…cultural pride of cornbread tradition. And, I like that. The Italians have their food pride in every region, so I respect and appreciate the Tennessee pride in good corn bread.
And, then I discovered there is a National Cornbread Festival in South. Pittsburg, Tennessee (near Chattanooga) in April. Well, you just bet that I have marked my calendar for this. They even have a national cornbread theme song. They sing about pinto beans, turnip greens, corn bread, clowns, puppeteers, a 5K corn bread run, music, all happening April 24-25.
As I looked through the winning recipes, I realized just how corn bread boring I am. Last year’s number winner won with buffalo chicken cornbread and blue cheese salad, while I’m still trying to get just good old-fashioned corn bread perfected. And, to mildly exciting, here is blue cornbread with pine nuts. The texture is perfect, and you can see the bottom browned and crispy/chewy. I used a mixture of buttermilk and sour cream because it was what I had available.
This time I made it in a rectangular stone baking sheet, which makes nice small squares. Blue corn meal is a bit sweeter than regular, and in the Native American culture, thought to to mean long life. Blue corn meal is often prepared with pine nuts. Instead of using a little sugar, I used some raw agave nectar, but not too much, as this shouldn’t be a really sweet bread. From this recipe, one could make croutons for a bean soup, or even prepare a corn bread dressing.
Natasha of 5 Star Foodie challenged her readers to prepare cornbread this month, using either traditional or innovative recipes, and this is my entry for her 5 Star Makeover.
Traditional Southern, Buttermilk Cornbread, recipe found here.
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 cups blue cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup sour cream (or a second cup of buttermilk)
- ½ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons raw agave nectar or sugar
- ½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425. Put rectangular stone pan (or 10” cast iron) pan into oven with oil. As soon as oven is heated, pour any excess oil into batter below. Pour batter into pan and bake for 15 -20 minutes.
- Mix dry ingredients together.
- Mix eggs, buttermilk, sour cream and agave necar. Add dry to dry ingredients.
- If using rectangular baking sheet, bake for 15 minutes.
- If using cast iron pan, bake for 20 minutes.