Cornbread. The neglected side dish of my childhood dinner table.
Growing up, my mom always served a basket of warm cornbread alongside a big pot of chili. But alas, rarely did I eat it. Instead, I focused my attention on the chili, toppings, chips, and guacamole. There was nothing wrong with the cornbread. It just wasn’t AS amazing as the rest of the spread set out before me. I have my priorities, alright?
Fast forward to my current chili-eating endeavors and this buttermilk cornbread, which refuses to take a backseat. This is no decorative cornbread, I tell you. It is 100% worth the precious space in your stomach.
I certainly didn’t think it would be a plant-based, whole wheat cornbread that would move me to feel this way, but here we are. This version is super flavorful thanks to the tang of the “buttermilk” which is balanced by a buttery-tasting olive oil and just a hint of sweetness from honey. And the texture is equally drool-worthy with a lightly golden crust that yields to a moist, tender crumb.
At our house, this cornbread is consistently one of Michael’s and my favorites. Honestly, I think he would eat a plate piled high with just cornbread if it was socially (and nutritionally) acceptable. So go ahead, bake this cornbread and give it the place of honor it deserves on your dinner table.
This recipe is featured in the following menus: Game Day Chili Menu
- 1¼ cup nondairy milk, unflavored and unsweetened (I use soy milk, but any milk will work)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup whole grain corn meal, medium grind
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably with a light, buttery flavor (I use California Olive Ranch 'Everyday' variety)
- ¼ cup honey (sub coconut sugar for vegan)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Make the buttermilk and the flax "eggs".
- To a 4-cup liquid measuring cup (or a medium bowl), add the soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine and set aside.
- Add 6 tablespoons of water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce heat to low and stir in the flax meal. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks like a gelatinous sauce. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Combine the dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, corn meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine well and ensure there are no clumps of the baking soda/powder remaining.
- Combine the wet ingredients.
- To the measuring cup/bowl with the buttermilk, add the olive oil, then the honey, and the reserved flax sauce. Whisk together all of the wet ingredients, being sure to incorporate the flax sauce throughout the wet mixture.
- Bring the batter together.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until just combined and no flour is visible. Do not overmix. The batter should appear like a wet, loose dough.
- Bake the bread.
- Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish by spreading a thin layer of olive oil (about ½ teaspoon) with a towel. Turn the batter into the oiled pan. Use the spatula to even and smooth out the top.
- Bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick comes out cleanly (26 minutes was perfect for me). Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.
- Cut into pieces and serve warm or room temperature. If you're feeling indulgent, add a drizzle of honey on top.
- Make-ahead and storage notes.
- Cornbread is best enjoyed the day it's made, but leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Once it is completely cooled, cover the pan and refrigerate. Rewarm cornbread pieces wrapped in paper towel in the microwave on 50% power 30 seconds at a time.
- Cornbread can also be frozen for up to a month. To do so, cool the just-baked bread in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Then, invert the bread onto a plate and return it to the rack right-side up to finish cooling completely. Once cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Wrap with an additional layer of aluminum foil and seal shut (or place in freezer bag). To reheat the frozen cornbread, unwrap and remove the plastic wrap. Loosely rewrap in aluminum foil and heat in a 350 degree oven until warmed through.
Registration required to view this recipe on the Cooks Illustrated website. Alternatively, you can search the recipe name and find it reposted on various other blogs.