Please help me tweak this jalapeño cornbread recipe
I am not a cornbread expert but I liked the looks of this recipe and I need some help tweaking it to achieve a moist, rich result. Also, it is meant to be done in a skillet but I don't have a cast iron skillet and I don't like the dark or burnt results of that method. So I'd rather use my pyrex baking pan.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick
)2 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups drained golden hominy
1 small jalapeño, seeds removed and minced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons stone-ground yellow cornmeal
It says bake on 425 in a cast iron skillet for 25-35 mins.
Here are the changes I want to make:
-Can you advise on the changes and also suggest what size baking pan (clear pyrex is what I have, would 13/9 inch be ok?) and what temperature to bake on?
-If I use a whole stick of butter, what will happen?
-What will happen if I use buttermilk? What about cream? Instead of milk, I mean? I usually see cornbread recipes with buttermilk but I don't know what purpose that serves.
-If I want a slightly sweeter result, how much sugar would be a good amount to add for an increase? I don't want it to taste like a sweet cake or anything, I just like the idea of sweet corny taste with jalapeño heat.
-What will happen if I use 1 1/4 flour to 1 1/4 yellow cornmeal? Also, I think the extra 2 tbs of cornmeal is to prevent to cornbread from sticking to the skillet, should I still put that in the bottom of the pyrex pan?
-I like the bite in Mexican yellow hominy, but I may only be able to find white hominy at the store, which I find to be like a mushy ball. So I was thinking of just using canned or frozen sweet corn.
Seasoned cornbread experts please advise---I know cornbread is one of those traditional things and that some people have a pet-peeve about about such things being 'messed with' by additions of hominy and jalapeño, but I hope experts will still advise on how to achieve the best, richest results with this non-traditional recipe.
I'm aware of using cornmeal on a baking sheet to reduce sticking, when baking yeast breads, but don't recall seeing that done with batters like this. This recipe may have enough butter that sticking will not be a big problem. Still, I routinely spray baking pans for batters like this with baking spray (the kind that includes some flour). Another option is to line the pan bottom with parchment paper.
In my experience, developing a good crust with a hot skillet is most valuable when making a southern style cornbread with 100% cornmeal, and no sugar. It improves the overall texture and taste. That kind of bread is also better when baking in thin layer, so there is more of this crisp crust per volume. Those issues matter less with this sort of bread.
Come to think of it, if you want a moist cornbread, take a look at spoonbread recipes. These are more like a cornmeal custard or souffle, using a higher ratio of milk and eggs to cornmeal. Last time I made spoon bread I started with left over grits, adding eggs, milk, etc to form the batter.
My first advice would be to make this recipe according to the original instructions before taking on the task of "adjusting" it.
"I don't like the dark or burnt results of that method. So I'd rather use my pyrex baking pan."
When those results develop it's not the fault of the cast iron, it's the inexperience of the cook.
Now that I've vented my bias for cast iron cooking (I try to use CA almost exclusively) I suggest replacing the granulated sugar with light brown sugar and topping the batter with chopped bacon that's been cooked but not crisp.
Your recipe calculates to about 116 cubic inches. A 1 inch deep 9X13 pan is 117 cubic inches; if it's 1 1/2 inches deep it's 175 cubic inches. There are approximately 14 1/2 cubic inches in an 8 ounce cup so, even though at 1 inch deep 9x13 is cutting it close, I suspect your 9x13 Pyrex will do the job.
Adding more butter is going to affect the texture of your corn bread and, because of the additional water that the butter contains, it'll take a bit longer to bake. Frankly, I'd make it according to instructions the first time and then make the butter adjustment the next time to have a basis for comparison.
Using buttermilk will change the flavor profile and batter consistency but if you want to use buttermilk I'd say go for it. Buttermilk, in addition to its having less fat than whole milk, adds both flavor and acidity. The acidity aids in the performance of leavening agents.
If you want a slightly sweeter result you could add more sugar but, as I understand your question, you haven't tried this recipe before so you'd have nothing to compare the results to. Remember that sugar equal liquid. Every time you increase sugar in a recipe you're increasing the amount of liquid that has to be dealt with.
Using equal amounts of corn meal and AP flour is a common practice in making corn bread that is less dense (more like cake) but still crumbly.
I don't think you need to use corn meal in the Pyrex. But I'd suggest using something heavier than butter for lubricating the dish. Perhaps vegetable shortening. It'll give you a crisp texture to the edges of the cornbread. Something that I personally favor.
If you're replacing the yellow hominy with corn, use frozen corn rather than canned.
You're taking on a challenge that extends well outside the boundaries of the original recipe. Therefore, while I encourage experimentation in the kitchen as a learning experience, understand that you can become confused and blinded if you don't record the step by step processes here. Keep a notebook handy and note every single variation, no matter how slight. I've had students that failed to do that. When they came up with a failure they couldn't identify where they went wrong and when they cam up with a crowd pleasing result they couldn't duplicate it.
Cornbread as a traditional American food should not be moist, like say zucchini bread. If you are wanting to make stuffing from the cornbread, I'd advise not going moister, because you need the bread to dry overnight to make good stuffing the next day. Moist bread is wasted for this purpose.
Here are the ingredients for a buttermilk cornbread as found in the c1975 ed. of Joy of Cooking for comparison:
1 C sifted all purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 T sugar
1 t salt
3/4 C yellow stone ground cornmeal
1 1/2 C buttermilk or yogurt
3-4 T melted butter or fresh bacon drippings
You could certainly add jalapenos to this, and with the buttermilk the bread should be moister than a bread made with regular milk.
As to baking cornbread in a glass pan, you can, but cornbread is truly best baked in cast iron.
Here is a quote from JOC about cornbread:
"Anyone who grew up on southern corn breads hankers for a rich brown crust and a light but slightly gritty bite. We can assure you that without stone-ground cornmeal and heavy, hot pan, the end product will be pale and lifeless. For a very crisp crust, grease the pan well and heat it in a 425 deg oven before filling."
I have always melted the shortening in the skillet in the oven, and add the hot shortening to the batter, mixing with a few quick stirs. If I didn't have CI for the cornbread, I'd use a steel or heavy ceramic pan.
I wish you many happy cornbreads in life.
I wonder why the recipe includes baking soda. There isn't an acid component like buttermilk.
There are lots of recipes that add chiles to cornbread, though canned mild green ones are more common than jalapeno. These additions add flavor, but don't affect the baking qualities.
Cornbread can range from 100% corn (southern style) to 50/50 or more flour, like this.
This recipe is unique in its use of hominy. Have you made it yet (as is)?
I think canned corn or creamed corn is a more common addition, and may do more to make the cornbread moist.
The amount of butter seems high, at least for that amount of flour (and cornmeal). It may not be high if the 2c of hominy is taken into account.
Sugar can vary from 0 in southern, to about 2/3c (for 2c total of flour). Obviously the more sugar you use, the more you move it in the direction of cake.
Buttermilk results in a moister product. It also should require a lesser amount of leveners - how much less I don't know.
Regarding the use of corn, I often add canned cream corn to cornbread. It's the only time I use creamed corn for anything, but it works well in CB.
Increasing the cornmeal and or decreasing the flour will result in a denser CB. The 2 c. of drained hominy is already adding some density - if you use the whole 2 cups I would not tinker with the flour/meal amounts or ratios.
This recipe has a lot going on - truthfully I would stick close to the original recipe the first time around.