Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blueberry Thyme Cornbread

I think I have at least one recipe stashed away somewhere in what at some level is an organized fashion for a blueberry cornbread. It’s really the idea that I wanted to hang onto, however, since I’m very happy with the basic cornbread recipe I use (and occasionally vary slightly) from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. All I needed to do was add some blueberries to my favorite cornbread and I would probably have something good.

I wanted this cornbread to be something I could serve as part as supper, an accompaniment to a savory meal (first, beans and rice, and then the leftovers with black bean soup), so I didn’t want something sweet enough to be confused with cake. At the same time, I wanted the blueberries in a batter that had a little sweetness, so I used a bit more honey than I usually do to make cornbread. Also, to make a little bridge back to savory, I added some fresh thyme leaves.

I was pretty excited at how successful this cornbread recipe was. I quite liked the blueberries with the cornmeal and the combination of thyme and blueberries was especially delicious. I admit that, even though I put the thyme in the cornbread myself, its bright, herbal taste was a pleasant surprise. Usually, I’d go for sweet spices like cinnamon and cloves with blueberries, but the thyme was great as both a compliment and a contrast to the fruity blueberries.

I particularly like to use a cast-iron skillet to make cornbread of any kind. I love the way it makes delightfully brown and crunchy edges. Using Madison’s method of preheating the pan and greasing it by melting some of the butter for the recipe in the process, then brushing it up the sides of the pan, helps to create those delicious edges. I like to use a good-quality stone-ground cornmeal for great flavor and a pleasant, slightly crumbly texture. I also highly recommend using whole wheat pastry flour along with the cornmeal for a more complex but still delicate grain flavor, but all-purpose flour could be used instead.

This Blueberry Thyme Cornbread was great in its intended place as part of supper rather than dessert. Of course, making this blueberry cake or adding blueberries to this yogurt cake might be just as nice and easy if you do happen to be looking for dessert. There are lots of blueberries out there, so I hope you find someplace you love to feature them.

Blueberry Thyme Cornbread
Based on a recipe in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

6 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
¼ cup honey
1 cup milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place in the oven to melt. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium-size bowl, combine the cornmeal, whole wheat pastry flour, salt, and baking powder. Whisk or sift to combine well. Set aside.

3. In a medium-size bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a whisk. Whisk in the 4 tablespoons melted butter. Whisk in the honey and the milk until well combined.

4. Pour the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in the blueberries and thyme.

5. Remove the skillet with the butter from the oven. Brush the melted butter all over the inside of the skillet. Pour any excess butter into the batter and stir in.

6. Pour the batter into the skillet. Place the skillet back into the oven and bake at 425 F for about 20 minutes or until golden brown along the edges and a wooden pick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Makes about 8 servings. The cornbread is best the day it is made, but leftovers are still good stored in a zip-top bag and warmed in a microwave.

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