360: Cornbread (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

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My dad bought a package of boneless ribs that he was very excited about us having while Alex and I visited. I decided that I’d toss them in the crockpot with some barbecue sauce, but I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to make to go with it, until I remembered the Cornbread recipe I’d noticed from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice (affiliate link). [Edit: you can see the recipe and my 2014 review here.]

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This is a very serious cornbread. I (used to) make cornbread relatively often – a standard, slightly sweet cornbread that pairs perfectly with chili. This recipe takes actual corn in it, which makes it a heftier side than a normal cornbread square or muffin. However, the thing that attracted me to this recipe for this meal, though, was bacon. You use a half pound of bacon in this recipe. I was using the oven when I started this recipe, though, so I couldn’t try making the bacon in the oven as the recipe instructs.

[Those instructions aren’t available via the link. You arrange bacon on 2 sheet pans and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 375F oven, until bacon is crisp. You remove bacon to a paper towel lined pan or plate to let it cool, and you drain off the fat and save for greasing the cornbread pan. I didn’t do this, but I kind of wish I could have tried it.]

Actually, the first thing you do for this cornbread is soak coarse-ground cornmeal overnight in buttermilk. We didn’t have coarse-ground cornmeal available (and I don’t think I have any at my own home either, actually), but I tried soaking regular cornmeal in a sour-milk mixture for a few hours before I started the recipe.

This recipe messed up quite a few bowls. I combined flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl, and added the sugars. I dissolved honey in melted butter in another. I added the honey butter and eggs to the milk-cornmeal, and whisked it together the best that I could. I added the wet ingredients to the dry, mixed them together, and added a bag of frozen corn.

I altered the next step a bit too. You’re supposed to put 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in a 10-inch round pan (I used a springform) and heat it in the oven to make the grease nice and hot. Mine was still hot, so I just swirled it around the pan to grease it. I poured in the batter and pressed crumbled bacon on top.

I baked it for 30 minutes originally, but the bread was nowhere near done. I had to bake it nearly an extra 15-20 minutes to get a toothpick to come out clean.

peter reinhart's cornbread (with bacon)
Bacon Cornbread

This was very good cornbread, once it was done. The bacon gave it a nice savory flavor and looked good in addition to tasting good. The corn gave us something to chew on while we ate it. The cornbread itself had a good texture, even though I used regular cornmeal as opposed to coarse ground. Next time, I would heat the pan after adding the bacon grease to make sure that the outside gets a nice crust. I would also be sure to thaw my corn kernels before adding them, because I think that the frozen corn slowed down the baking process. I would like to try a coarse-ground cornmeal in this, and I might try a different size pan to make it easier to eat. Even with my adaptations, though, I liked this cornbread and will almost definitely make it again.

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