Sweet and Cakey Northern Cornbread (and the results of the Epic Chocolate Cake!)

Now that I’m cooking for four or more instead of one and my supermarket is a 15 minute drive away instead of right across the street, my grocery shopping habits have changed drastically. Instead of using what’s already in the fridge (and then going across the street if I need to buy another ingredient or two), I find I’m planning meals a week in advance and structuring my grocery shopping around much more specific items. As a result, I’ve started to notice the accumulation of ingredients I don’t usually use everyday in my kitchen. There’s leftover coconut from the spinach. Buttermilk from the cake. Heavy cream from the cookies. Phyllo dough from a dinner party I had two years ago. And of course, the seemingly inexhaustible bag of kale. In addition, after being away for a year, I’m finding a lot more items that somebody seems to have impulsively bought and promptly forgot: soba, polenta, frozen rhubarb…

In an effort not to let these ingredients go to waste, I’ve resolved to use them all up before buying anything new. So today’s recipe, from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, is brought to you by my need to use up a leftover carton of buttermilk and a random bag of corn meal I found at the back of our pantry.

As you probably were able to guess from the word “buttermilk,” this recipe is not exactly healthy. In fact, let’s be real: this is straight up Paula Deen territory.

Your ingredients:

First of all: prep. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and grease a square pan. Melt a stick of better, then promptly stick it in the fridge to cool off. Thaw 3/4 cup of frozen corn (or use fresh corn or use canned corn or stick the corn in the microwave for a few seconds).

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1.5 cups flour, 1 cup corn meal, and a sprinkle of baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a food processor, pulse corn, 1 cup buttermilk, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 2 large eggs, until you get a really appetizing mixture that should look something like this:

Mmm. Doesn’t that look delicious?

Fold the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture. Then, fold in the melted butter.

Scrape the dough into your pan, and bake for 35 minutes, or until top is brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (mine only took about 20 minutes to bake).

Voila! Yummy, delicious corn bread that goes great with rotisserie chicken or other summer staples. The recipe book also includes an option with maple syrup and blueberries (which I think would make delicious muffins) or jalapeño peppers.

More excitingly (at least, for me) I finally got to taste the Epic Chocolate Cake I baked on Monday!

It was… epic. The cake was really dense and chocolatey — the kind of cake where you can really only handle one skinny slice because it’s so rich. The filling presented a nice, tangy contrast and didn’t get crusty like other fruit fillings. And the ganache was buttery, chocolatey perfection. Next time I bake this cake (and there will be a next time), I think I’ll add another layer of ganache with the raspberry filling.

This cake was an overall crowd pleaser and definitely worth the effort for a special occasion. Congrats to my bro!

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