I love comforting dishes that warm your home and your belly. This cornbread is exactly what comes to mind. Sure, a seasoned cast iron skillet will dress up any stovetop, but fill it with cornbread and you’ve got me – I’m yours. Melt some butter on a nice big slice and, all of a sudden, a Boston winter becomes tolerable again. Thank you, Matthew! -Maggie
Given that it is January here in Boston, I was quite surprised to find that my herb garden in the backyard was still holding on to green foliage. Even more impressive to me, was the new growth that was still coming out of some of the plants. I thought it best to take advantage of this extended growing season and harvest the majority of thyme that remained, and fast.
Since it is in fact winter – and not summer, as my yard would suggest – I was in the mood to indulge in something comforting and warm. I decided to put that thyme to good use in an oven-baked cornbread using a cast iron skillet. I also thought I’d switch up the traditional flavor of cornbread and at the same time put to use the toasted anise spice sugar from Didi Davis (purchased at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market).
The smell of the herbed cornbread filled the kitchen – an inviting mix of the fresh picked winter herbs blended together with the sweet anise elements. I was so delighted with this flavor combo I’ve already started planning when I’ll whip it up again, perhaps for some guests on a cold night or to treat myself after a few hours of shoveling.
- 1 3/4 cups corn meal
- 1/2 cup sifted flour
- 2 tbs anise spice sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tbs vegetable oil (or bacon grease!)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbs fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Heat the two tablespoons of oil in the cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the the buttermilk, eggs and heated oil from the skillet. Combine the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients, stir and then incorporate the thyme into the mixture.
- Pour the batter into the cast iron skillet, and bake for about 25 minutes. You will know the cornbread is finished when the golden-browned edges pull away from the sides of the cast iron. You can test the center with a toothpick to be sure it is cooked through before removing from oven.
Photos styled and taken by Matthew Petrelis.
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