I found this delicious recipe online several years ago. It was labeled The World's Best Cornbread. With a name like that I just had to give it a try.....
and I wasn't disappointed! It has been my go-to recipe to serve with soups, stews, chilis, salads, etc....... The technique is quite unique; you preheat a cast iron skillet in the oven for fifteen minutes while you're putting together the batter. Baking this cornbread in a preheated pan gives the finished product and incredibly crisp, yummy crust while the inside is tender and sweet. I use the same technique to make corn muffins from this recipe also and the results are spectaclar!
As usual, I've adapted the recipe a bit to suit our tastes. I make it just a little sweeter and usually serve it with some type of fun compound butter (just a fancy name for butter that has been mixed with something delicious - like herbs, honey, jam etc. -to enhance the flavor). It's been a favorite, never-fail recipe but today I decided to jazz it up to serve along side my Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup with Melting Bocconcini. I added fresh corn, lots of sweet basil and the some crumbled applewood smoked bacon. I had some fig preserves left over from my Grilled Pizza with Figs, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Sweet Cherries so I mixed up a yummy Figgy Butter. Although the original recipe is fabulous these small additions took it right over the top!
Fresh Corn & Sweet Basil Cornbread with Fig Butter
3 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup of all purpose flour
¾ cup of yellow cornmeal (it's okay to use white cornmeal, I prefer yellow)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup sugar
2 cobs fresh corn, kernels removed
2 strips applewood bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional, this is also delicious without the bacon)
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
¼ cup butter, MELTED
1 large egg
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
2. Put 3 tbsp. of Canola oil into a black 12" skillet, and put the skillet into the oven so it'll get hot. The skillet with the oil should be in the oven about 15 minutes or so. You want the skillet, and the oil inside it, to get piping hot, but not to begin to smoke. (If you are making corn muffins put one teaspoon of oil in each of 12 muffin cups. Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes, then divide batter among the 12 cups.)3. Place the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl Stir them till you're sure that they've all been mixed together thoroughly. Make sure your baking powder/soda have been complete incorporated into your flour and cornmeal.
4. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30-40 seconds in a medium size bowl. Add the buttermilk and egg and use a fork to mix.
5. Pour the liquid ingredients ALL AT ONCE into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula (or large wooden spoon) to mix the wet and dry ingredients, using only a few swift strokes -- about a dozen turns. It's okay if there are small bits of dry flour/cornmeal here and there. The point is to mix LIGHTLY -- if it starts to look smooth like cake batter, you've gone too far.
6. Use an oven mitt to remove the hot skillet from the oven. Pour the batter into the pan (you should hear it sizzle just a bit) and return the skillet to the oven.
7. It will probably take about 20 - 25 minutes to bake but set your timer for 15 minutes, tcheck the cornbread and turn it halfway around (for even browning.) Set the timer for another 4-5 minutes - some ovens run really hot -- so your cornbread might be ready in slightly less than 20 minutes. For other ovens, it could take the full 25 minutes, or even slightly longer. (For muffins, set your timer for 10 minutes and check. They will take anywhere from 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven when golden brown. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack, wipe the drool off your mouth and go ahead and indulge!)
8. Remove it to the counter and let it sit for about 8 minutes. Place a plate on top of the skillet (use an oven mitt -- the skillet will still be really hot) and invert so that the cornbread falls onto the plate. Either invert it again or serve with the bottom side up.
9. Let the cornbread rest for about 10 minutes, then slice into wedges. The crust will be dark and crisp, the interior will be moist and have a heavenly crumb. Expect rave reviews!Figgy Butter
2 1/2 tablespoons fig preserves
1. If there are large pieces of figs, chop them up fairly fine. In a small bowl mix both ingredients together well and transfer to a serving dish. Keep refrigerated until about 45 minutes before serving. Serve with any type of dinner roll or bread. It is also quite delicious on toast!
This butter freezes well - sometimes I like to make a bunch of it and freeze it in small serving dishes - that way when I'm having a dinner party I can just pull it out a few hours ahead and have a fun butter to serve whatever bread I'm having with the meal. I always thank myself later when I do this!
Note: I decided that if the British could have Figgy Pudding, Icould have Figgy Butter, hence the name!