One of the little games I play in the kitchen is to challenge myself to minimize the number of dishes I use. I also like to prepare recipes in the fewest steps possible.
Last week, I reworked my regular cornbread routine to lose one dish, one step, and several minutes of cooking time. I was overjoyed. Truthfully, I was probably too excited by what amounts to a few minutes of time savings. But hey, I have to get my kicks somehow when making meal after meal.
The cornbread I make requires melted butter. I usually butter the dish by hand, melt butter in a tiny pan over the stove, add to a liquid measuring cup, and go from there.
This time I melted the butter in our 12 inch sloped sided Lodge cast iron skillet, aka the best pan ever. With the heat off, I poured butter into the liquid ingredients. While I stirred the liquids into the dry ingredients, the oven preheated. I poured the batter into the still-hot pan, placed it in the oven and 22 minutes later pulled out crisp-edged cornbread.
I always think I am a culinary genius when I come up with a breakthrough like this. But then I realize that a real genius would have been preparing the recipe this way all along!
Fast, Simple Cornbread
slightly adapted from Betty Crocker’s sweet country cornbread
Makes: 8 large wedges
Time: 30 minutes
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk or 1 1/4 cup cultured buttermilk
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal (I love local Shagbark farm cornmeal)
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place a 12 inch sloped sided cast iron skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the butter and melt it without burning.
3. Meanwhile, measure milk into a graduated liquid measuring cup and stir in an egg.
4. Turn off the heat. Pour the butter into the milk (it will clump a little and that’s ok).
5. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.
6. Pour the batter into the still-hot pan and immediately transfer to the preheated oven.
7. Bake until the edges and top are browned. Remove from the oven, cut into wedges, and serve warm with honey or butter.