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In college, my favorite dining hall days were when they served cornbread. I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I once dreamed the dining hall lady saw how much I loved the cornbread and gave me a big plate to take with me. No joke.

Now, having lived in both the North and the South, I’ve come across a pretty significan regional difference in how cornbread is prepared. In the North, cornbread is made with both cornmeal and flour, along with a generous amount of sugar. This results in a cornbread that is light, soft and sweet, almost like a cake. In the South, cornbread is made with very little, if any, flour and often involves no sugar at all. The resulting cornbread is dryer and not sweet, but sweetness is often added by topping the cornbread with butter and honey when eating.

Southerners tend to be pretty particular about their cornbread and dismissive of that cakey Yankee stuff. I, however, tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I like my cornbread with a little flour to give it a bit of softness and moisture, along with a little bit of sweetness. And, of course, buttermilk. Because I add buttermilk to pretty much everything I can.

In addition to the buttermilk, I’ve made a Honey Orange Compound Butter to serve with the cornbread. It adds that lovely mellow honey sweetness without going over the top and the orange brings that little extra depth of family. If you’re not an orange person, try making a honey cinnamon compound butter instead! By the way, “compound butter” is just a fancy way of saying butter with yummy stuff mixed in. Nothing too intimidating.

Okay, one last note and then we’re on to the recipe. I usually make cornbread in a cast iron skillet, but I made this at my brother’s house and his skillet wasn’t readily available. Regardless of whether you use a cast iron skillet or a baking dish, make sure the dish is nice and hot before you add the batter. This makes the outside of the cornbread nice and crispy without drying out the middle. So go forth and make some super tasty cornbread this Thanksgiving!

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Cornbread:

1 1/2 C Cornmeal
1/2 C Flour
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 C Buttermilk
2 Eggs
2 – 3 Tbsp Honey
4 Tbsp Butter, melted
extra butter for greasing the pan

 

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Compound Butter:

1/2 lb Butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 tsp Orange Zest
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp fresh Orange Juice

 

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Preheat the oven to 400ºF and place an 8×8″ baking pan in the oven to heat along with it.

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

 

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In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and honey.

 

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Stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until everything is just moistened and then stir in the melted butter until everything is just mixed.

 

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Remove baking dish from the oven. Remember to use oven mitts because the pan will be very hot. Rub the bottom and sides of the pan with butter.

 

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Pour the cornbread batter into the baking dish and spread gently with a fork or spatula. Place the cornbread in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes — until the top is browned and the middle set.

 

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When the cornbread has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before turning the cornbread out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

 

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Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the orange zest and salt and whip the butter until soft, light and fluffy.

Add the honey and orange juice and continue to whip until the butter until the honey and orange juice have been fully incorporated. Taste the butter and if you want it sweeter or more orangey, add a little more honey or OJ.

 

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At this point you can spoon the butter into a small bowl or bowls, cover and place in the refrigerator, or you can roll the butter into logs. If you want to roll the butter into logs, place about half of it on a piece of parchment paper and use the paper to roll it into a tight log. Tape the ends closed and put it in the freezer. When you are ready to use the compound butter, unwrap it and cut it into disks to serve.

 

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Cornbread with Honey Orange Compound Butter
 
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • Cornbread:
  • 1½ C Cornmeal
  • ½ C Flour
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 C Buttermilk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp Honey
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, melted
  • extra butter for greasing the pan
  • Compound Butter:
  • ½ lb Butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • ½ tsp Orange Zest
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 1½ Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp fresh Orange Juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF and place an 8x8" baking pan in the oven to heat along with it.
  2. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and honey.
  4. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until everything is just moistened and then stir in the melted butter until everything is just mixed.
  5. Remove baking dish from the oven. Remember to use oven mitts because the pan will be very hot. Rub the bottom and sides of the pan with butter.
  6. Pour the cornbread batter into the baking dish and spread gently with a fork or spatula. Place the cornbread in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes — until the top is browned and the middle set.
  7. When the cornbread has finished cooking, remove it from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before turning the cornbread out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  8. Place the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the orange zest and salt and whip the butter until soft, light and fluffy.
  9. Add the honey and orange juice and continue to whip until the butter until the honey and orange juice have been fully incorporated. Taste the butter and if you want it sweeter or more orangey, add a little more honey or OJ.
  10. At this point you can spoon the butter into a small bowl or bowls, cover and place in the refrigerator, or you can roll the butter into logs. If you want to roll the butter into logs, place about half of it on a piece of parchment paper and use the paper to roll it into a tight log. Tape the ends closed and put it in the freezer. When you are ready to use the compound butter, unwrap it and cut it into disks to serve.
  11. Serve the cornbread warm with the compound butter.
 

 

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