Cornbread is technically any quick bread that contains cornmeal and uses baking powder as the leavening agent, but it lends itself to many flavor variations as well as forms. The incredibly versatile dish can be made as a loaf, a cake, skillet bread, or muffins. In addition, it can be baked, fried, or even steamed.
A distinctly American treat, the Native Americans ate food prepared from ground corn for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived, but today it's more widely known as a popular food in the South. Cornbread is typically an accompaniment for barbecue meats, chili, and baked beans, but it's also used as a turkey stuffing or dressing at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most holiday tables also have cornbread as a standalone side dish or appetizer.
A long standing debate revolves around how sweet cornbread should be. Traditionally in the South, cornbread has little to no sugar and uses a greater ratio of cornmeal than flour. Northerners, on the other hand, prefer their cornmeal sweeter and with a more cake-like texture.
Cornbread makes a great base for additional flavorings. It's delicious with lots of shredded cheese, such as sharp cheddar, stirred into the batter. Corn kernels or creamed corn are also common add-ins. But one of the most popular additions during the autumn holidays is the quintessential autumn squash: pumpkin. It's mild, naturally sweet flavor pairs well with both sweet and savory cornbreads. You can use canned pumpkin or even your own homemade puree (do not use pumpkin pie filling) and either one will add both flavor and nutrition as well as great moisture to the dense bread.
Enjoy this fall treat with hearty meat dishes at dinner or even at breakfast with eggs. It might be served topped with butter, honey, or maple syrup, or even dipped in milk like a cereal—however you like to eat it, this cornbread is guaranteed to be a hit.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to grease the baking dish
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, light brown sugar, canola oil (or other vegetable oil), maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk in the pumpkin puree.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
- Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.
- Grease a cast iron pan or 9-inch baking dish and pour in the batter.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean.