Published January 1, 2005.
Brushing regional differences aside, we wanted both a tender, fluffy crumb and a thick, crunchy crust. But what we wanted most of all was sweet corn flavor.
Whether you're a fan of the Southern version of cornbread (a squat, savory skillet bread used for sopping up pot liquor) or the Northern version (more cake than bread, light, tender, and generously sweetened), one problem remains common to both versions: They lack convincing corn flavor.
We wanted to avoid a regional food fight by proposing a compromise on texture: moist and somewhat fluffy but neither cakey nor heavy. But our most important decision we made is one that will please everyone--that is, to make a cornbread that was rich with the flavor of corn and crowned with a deeply browned crust.
The secret to cornbread with real corn flavor was pretty simple: Use corn, not just cornmeal. While fresh corn was best, frozen was nearly as good, and pureeing the kernels in a food processor made them easy to use while eliminating tough, chewy kernels. We couldn't assume everyone would own the cast iron skillet in which Southern cornbreads traditionally get their thick crust, but we compensated by baking the bread at a higher than conventional temperature, producing a crunchy crust full of toasted corn flavor.list of recipes