Cornbread is a pretty personal thing. Southerner's feel that sugar should never make it's way in and Northener's can't seem to get enough sugar in it. I fall somewhere in the middle. I want a hint of sweetness so it tastes like the cornbread I know and love but I don't want it tasting like dessert. Getting that ratio right is a difficult thing. It's even more difficult to find a recipe that results in a cornbread that is moist and flavorful. Yet somehow this recipe does it all and the resulting cornbread is as close to nirvana as you can get. Tender and rich from the addition of buttermilk, olive oil, and butter. Subtly sweet and incredibly savory - it does it all. It works as a side to my favorite guacamole salad and bourbon steak but it's also magical as a base for a riff on panzanella (with corn, cherry tomatoes, chives, and some crumbled bacon) when it's gone a little stale. I actually think it may be the summer workhouse I didn't know I was missing. Clearly, Mama knows best.
Recipe from Leite's Culinaria
I went with the 1/3 cup of sugar and the 1/2 cup of olive oil and found that to be perfect.
6 tablespoon (3 ounces) unsalted butter, somewhere between cold and room temperature
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup (160 grams) cornmeal
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (100 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (30 grams) whole-wheat flour (or substitute all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (120 milliliters) whole milk
1 cup (240 milliliters) full fat buttermilk
1/2 to 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) mild olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and line an 8-by-8-inch (20-by-20 centimeter) metal pan with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Incorporate the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.
Pause the machine and add the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, mix until incorporated. Then pour in the milk, buttermilk, oil, and honey and mix just until combined. This should yield a very loose, runny batter. (Small lumps of butter are no problem, but avoid any lumps of flour. If you see them, mix the batter just a little longer or work them out with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.)
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. You’re going to want to start checking the cornbread after 30 minutes, and if the surface turns perfectly golden brown before the time is up, loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let the cornbread cool ever so slightly in the pan on a wire rack prior to slicing. This buttermilk cornbread is best served the day it’s made but keeps for up to 2 days if wrapped well.