Femme Brûlée: Blueberry Skillet Cornbread

Everything went wrong for me today. So many mishaps have scrambled up my life in the last 24 hours that when I spilled red wine on my brand new rug a few minutes ago, I just laughed and then kept right on laughing when my bowl of soup — that was meant to be eaten with rice but I had none cause I burned it TWICE — went cascading down the front of my favorite dress. Add to that a cracked phone screen, waking up to no internet service, and my brand new memory card malfunctioning and you’ve got my no good, very bad day in a nutshell.

Given all these issues, I was looking very forward to getting in the kitchen and baking the stress away but, of course, as soon as I started assembling my ingredients I realized I’d forgotten to buy eggs and had to head to the store at rush hour. When I finally got back home the last thing I wanted to do was bake. I was totally defeated from the day but I dragged myself into the kitchen, put on my Motown playlist, and started making cornbread. The minute I started weighing out ingredients and whisking to the beat of “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 the curse of the day started to lift. I forgot all the stress and frustration of the events that delayed my date with the oven and finally started to feel happy and at ease.

It’s amazing what baking can do for a bad day, especially when there’s something as tantalizing as blueberry skillet cornbread waiting at the finish line. No curse is strong enough to touch the joy that cornbread brings, especially this one. Dotted with berries, rich with butter, and a soft but substantial buttermilk laden crumb, this is the kind of cornbread that’ll have you smiling and licking your fingers on the way to grab another piece. I love the way the butter soaks into the edges of the bread and gets them all crispy and sexy in the oven. Swoon. And the berries! They blend so deliciously with the mildly sweet cornmeal. Eating this cornbread is a really wonderful experience. It’s comforting, warm, and just sweet enough to turn around a terrible day.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup (150g) cornmeal (I used white, but yellow works too!)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1- 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
6 tbs unsalted butter

1. Place skillet in the oven and preheat to 400° F.

2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir. Next, in a smaller bowl whisk together the sugar, eggs, and buttermilk then combine the wet ingredients with the dry. Lastly, fold in the blueberries! If you use frozen berries they’ll stain the batter which I don’t mind but some people do so. If that’s you, opt for fresh here.

3. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and melt the butter inside. You may need to place it back into the oven for a bit to fully melt the butter. Next, pour the batter into the skillet and spread around to the edges of the pan. Some of the butter will run on top of the batter and that’s absolutely deliciously okay.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes then remove skillet from the oven and set on the stovetop to cool for at least 10 minutes. You can serve it from the skillet.

Or transfer to a cutting board (place the board on top of the skillet and flip it out while wearing oven mitts) and slice.

5. Either way I highly suggest finishing it off with a nice drizzle of honey. You deserve the extra sweetness.

Reneice Charles is a just another queer, liberal, woman of color using the Internet to escape from reality and failing miserably. She received her MSW from New York University and is an Entrepreneur and Vocalist living in Los Angeles. She spends her spare time wishing she didn't have to use her spare time convincing people that everyone deserves the same basic human rights.

Reneice has written 78 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. This looks so good. And I love your writing – glad you were able to bake away your bad day.

    I have celiac and I’m really tempted to try substituting a gluten free flour mix for the regular flour. Cornbread is supposed to be a little crumbly and there’s all that lovely fat to hold it together.

    I also think I have some blue corn meal leftover from something (I am a sucker for unusual gf flours) that would either look really cool or off-puttingly weird.

    • My mom is GF as well as allergic and intolerant to xanthum gum. Her corn bread recipe uses 1 part tapioca or cornstarch and one part cornmeal, and sour cream as it seems good cornbread needs some sour dairy something in it to work. I’ve got the whole recipe somewhere if you feel adventurous and wanna try crossbreeding recipes.

  2. Impressed and inspired by how you triumphed over a bad day and channeled the energy into baking something lovely! I prob would have just fallen into cranky Netflix hole of avoidance.

    This recipe looks so goodddddddd omg

  3. Relatable I was outta my sleepy “totally well now, even my grated thumb is all better” mind this morning trying my second go at shokupan bread and I messed up pretty big but stress melted away because I was in my element and made delicious happen.

    Now this bake you got here looks like it would be delightfully tart and I can’t find buttermilk in the store that’s NOT a gigantic container. It was a struggle to use it all.
    When fall hits I’m going do so much baking, but I think I’d save this blueberry cornbread for a day of winter when it feels like summer will never come back.

    • All of these recipes that use buttermilk were SO enticing that I gave in and bought a carton of it (prompted originally by the ginger pear muffins), and freezing it has worked out okay for me! I’ve measured out amounts I’m likely to need and popped it in the freezer (if you’re freezing tablespoons you can put them in an ice cube tray and transfer that to a baggie or container). It seems to have come out okay in the baking–or at least my tastes aren’t refined enough to be able to tell the difference!

    • I never have buttermilk in the house but read somewhere (maybe the Joy of Cooking?) that you can add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to just under a cup of milk, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and it will curdle the milk a bit and can be used as a buttermilk substitute in baking. I’ve used it in various recipes with success.

      • I’ve heard that of trick and heh well it’d be no use as dairy milk is just as rare as buttermilk in my house. Still mentioning it likely helps someone out there who does keep dairy milk on hand.

  4. Reneeeeeeeeeeice you made me drool. Again.

    My sweetie brought home about ten little boxes of blackberries from the grocery store yesterday because they have been on super-sale and have been soooooo good. Then I went back and got a bunch more because it was the last day of the sale and seriously best blackberries ever.

    I think this recipe needs to be tried with blackberries, is where I’m going. Will report back if I do it.

    • Reporting back. The following modifications to this recipe were entirely successful (done all together, not tested out individually):
      –using blackberries instead of blueberries (had huge ones, so cut in halves/thirds to approximate the size of blueberries, but whatever, I’m sure this is optional)
      –making “buttermilk” from regular milk + vinegar as suggested above
      –adding orange zest. We sprinkled it atop the uncooked batter in the skillet then swirled it in just a little because we were worried it might burn if we didn’t.
      –doubling the recipe, because our only oven-safe skillet is frickin’ huge.
      –more-than-doubling the blackberries, I’m pretty sure. Not that we did anything so gauche as actual measurement, ha, don’t be silly! But I’m pretty sure we put in more than two cups to start with, and then once it was in the skillet we were like “but look, there are spots where there is still room to add blackberries.” So we did, obvs.

      Happy nomming, all, and thanks, Reneice.

  5. I’ve been on a hiatus from autostraddle after a tough breakup at the end of 2018. But I’m here today to celebrate coming back through Femme Brûlée! I made this recipe for myself and served it with 2 over-easy eggs, arugula, and blackberry jam.

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