Cornbread has got to be one of the most underrated comfort foods. It can be a sweet treat and loves melted butter and a generous drizzle of honey or jam. On the more savory side, serve a hunk of cornbread with any bean dish, and you have a complete protein.
In addition, this easy and quick bread lends itself to many tasty additions and substitutions. Add in whole corn kernels, chilis, peppers, cheddar cheese, or fresh herbs. Play with the sweetener, too. This recipe uses brown sugar, and you can try maple syrup, agave, honey, or granulated sugar and add fresh or frozen berries.
You might notice the tan and speckled color of this batch of cornbread as opposed to the typical yellow color. I sourced my cornmeal from Tierra Vegetables where they grow many varieties of heirloom corn to be used for polenta, cornmeal, masa, or fresh corn in the summer. The variety used in this recipe is the Hickory King Yellow, giving the finished bread a beautiful consistency and depth of flavor.
Just to give you an idea, Tierra Vegetables grows these varieties of corn:
Hickory King Yellow
|Hickory King White |
|Michoacan con Blanca|
Another fun aspect of this recipe is the addition of winter squash or sweet potato. In the late winter months in California, light orange butternut squash, striped delicata, and pink honeynut squashes are everywhere. Adding the sweet cooked pulp of a winter squash or pumpkin elevates this cornbread to new heights. Due to its unique consistency, you might avoid using spaghetti squash for this recipe. Here is the list of 15 popular winter squashes and pumpkins by Spruce Eats.
Winter Squash Skillet Cornbread
- 10" cast iron skillet or oven safe pan
- 1½ pounds winter squash or sweet potato (you need 1 ¾ cups squash pulp) Any hard winter squash will do, for example, butternut squash, honeynut squash, Kuri or delicata.
- ½ cup milk can substitute almond or rice milk
- 7 tbsp unsalted butter (melted) + 1 tbsp total = 1 stick of butter 4 oz.)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups cornmeal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour I used spelt flour
- ¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder yes, 1 tablespoon
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 425 °F
Prep the squash
- Cute the squash into cubes, remove the seeds, leaving skin on. Method #1: place on a cookie sheet, skin side down and roast in a 425 °F oven until soft, about 15 – 20 minutes. Method #2: If you have an Instapot, place squash cubes in the Instapot with 2 inches of water and pressure cook for 3 minutes.The squash will be very soft. When cool enough to touch, remove and discard the skins, mash the pulp with a fork until smooth and uniform. There should be 1¾ cup of pulp.
- Add the pulp to a bowl and whisk in the milk, butter, and eggs.
- Stir in the cornmeal, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until uniform.
- Place the cast iron skillet or oven-safe pan on the stovetop and add the 1 tbsp butter. Let it melt and simmer for 3 minutes until slightly brown and fragrant. Keep on low heat so the butter does not burn.Spoon in the batter into the skillet on top of the butter and smooth out the top. Place in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool the cornbread in the skillet for 1 hour before serving.