If you haven’t read yet, after the serious attempt to replace sugar with Splenda, we decided to ditch Splenda and all other artificial sweeteners. The final decision is to stick with things natural while, at the same time, reducing the amounts of sugar in our daily diet. Relative to baking, that means bread and muffins instead of cakes and cookies. And if a recipe calls for half a cup of sugar, there’s the option of reducing the sugar by a tablespoonful or so to re-train our taste buds to get used to less sweet baked products.
Yesterday morning, I baked a pan of cornbread based on a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. I said “based on” because I made one substitution. The original recipe uses frozen corn; I used fresh sweet yellow corn. I cut off the kernels from the cobs myself just like I did when I baked a batch of corn muffins a la Kenny Rogers. The second page of the corn muffins entry has a very illustrative photo of how to cut corn kernels off the cob.
Heat the butter in a pan and cook the corn until the kernels start to turn transparent. I prefer that they remain crisp at this point so that they won’t get soggy during baking. Cooking them in butter is meant to moisten them rather than to completely cook them. Cool the corn while preparing the batter. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the shortening. Use a pastry blender if you have one. I don’t I used two round-edged knives and cut through the mixture in a scissor-like fashion.
Stir in the corn mixture including the buttery liquid in the pan. Pour in the milk and egg and mix just until blended, taking extra care NOT to overmix. Pour into the prepared pan, tilting the pan and smoothing the batter with a spatula. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Turn upside down on a plate then return to the rack to cool some more.
If you’re wondering if you should wait until the cornbread has cooled completely before cutting, well, I cut it into squares while it was still quite hot because I was packing several pieces for the kids’ lunch boxes (for mid-morning and mid-afternoon recess) and there wasn’t much time left before the school bus was scheduled to arrive. After the kids left, I had two pieces of cornbread for breakfast.
How was the cornbread? Pretty good. Not too sweet, not oily, but not as moist as cakes or muffins. Well, it is bread after all. The cornbread was wonderful while still warm. It was wonderful after sitting overnight in a tightly covered container in the fridge.