Friday, November 4, 2011
Even though I’m not quite done putting winter squash and apples into everything I cook or bake, it’s now time to put cranberries into everything, too. So, say I’m serving chili on a rainy Sunday afternoon while we watch football. Well, here’s a Cranberry Walnut Cornbread recipe from The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger to serve alongside it.
Normally, I’m not all that fired up about accompanying my spicy-savory eats with something sweet, but this cornbread works. The cranberries are tart and tangy and there’s no doubt that it’s cornbread, which is contractually obligated to compliment a bowl of chili. It is a little sweet, but not so much so that you’ll think you’ve been served your dessert early.
The original recipe called for baking this in a loaf pan, and I’ve done that several times and been very happy. I really like to make cornbread in a cast iron skillet, however, and decided to try this recipe that way, too. Not only does it take cornbread less time to bake when the batter is spread out in the skillet, but it also develops wonderful crunchy brown edges. These edges are sturdy and make a nice handle for picking up a wedge of bread and dunking it point-first into some spicy chili (or winter squash soup!). They’re not just for handling, though, since those crispy, caramelized bits are super-delicious too.
I borrowed this skillet baking method from the cornbread recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I particularly like the technique of preheating the cast iron pan with some of the butter, which not only heats the pan, helping to create those coveted crunchy edges, but also provides an instant greasing of the pan. I just brush the melted butter all over the pan before pouring in the batter. There’s usually a bit of a pool of butter around the edges, even after the excess butter is poured into the batter, and I think that contributes to the brownness and crunchiness of the cornbread edges as well. Did I mention that I like the brown and crunchy edges?
While I’m plugging this as an accompaniment to a savory, steamy bowl of something good, its sweetness is quite satisfying on its own. I’ve had a wedge of it for breakfast, and I definitely wouldn’t turn my nose up at a chunk of it alongside my afternoon coffee or tea…even though those wonderfully crispy edges tend to soften when the cornbread is stored and reheated.
Cranberry Walnut Cornbread
Adapted from The Best Quick Breads by Beth Hensperger
You can bake this cornbread in a loaf pan, but increase the baking time to 35-40 minutes.
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup yellow cornmeal (I used stone-ground)
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 425 F. While the oven is preheating, place 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Put the skillet in the oven to preheat it and melt the butter.
2. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. Stir together with a whisk until well combined.
4. In another medium-size bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the melted butter. Remove the preheating skillet from the oven. Brush the 2 tablespoons of butter that was melted in the skillet all over the bottom and up the sides of the skillet. Pour any extra into the egg mixture and whisk it in. Set the skillet aside.
5. Whisk the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Pour this liquid mixture into the cornmeal mixture. Stir together until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts.
6. Pour the batter into the cast iron skillet. Bake at 425 F for about 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm from the skillet
Makes about 8 servings. Leftovers can be stored in a zip-top bag for a day or two, but may dry out quickly. Refresh leftovers in the microwave.
Other recipes like this one: Pecan Cornbread with Bourbon, Coconut Cranberry Quick Bread
One year ago: Pecan Cornbread with Bourbon (It looks like I always make cornbread this time of year!)
Two years ago: Roasted Winter Squash Puree