But then I found an old Betty Crocker cookbook above the oven. I think my parents got for their wedding but it had never been opened. I thumbed through the pages and learned that with a few simple ingredients you could make pancakes from scratch— without the Bisquick! You could bake an angel food cake, or stuff a turkey with homemade dressing or make a souffle!
These recipes were a revelation. I wanted to try to make them all. But we lived in a very small cabin in the woods and square footage didn’t allow much space for kitchen experimentation. So I’d tuck into the cookbook when I’d come home from school and read all about Beef Wellington, Lindy’s Cheesecake or sweet pepper jam. I read that book so many times the pages eventually fell out of the binding and still I wanted to know more.
After I married, the Viking and I were so poor we didn’t have a lot of money leftover for official dates so we would drive to the local book store and read books we couldn’t afford. I always made my way to the cookbooks where I’d select the biggest most photo filled one I could find and read until store closed the doors. My favorite was Classic Home Cooking by Mary Berry and Marlene Speiler.
Every time we’d go to that book store I’d pull it out and read. Our first Christmas together, the Viking bought me that cookbook. And I cherish it to this day. It’s when I first began experimenting in the kitchen. Sadly it’s out of print.
In those early years I’d try recipes anywhere I could find them. One of the first recipes I tried was for a classic cornbread recipe I think I pulled out of a Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. I didn’t even know you could make cornbread without a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. I was intrigued. I creamed the butter and whipped the eggs, added the cornmeal and flour and made a giant pan of cornbread that took the Viking and I a week to eat. It was divine!
Over the years I altered the recipe by increasing the butter and milk, reducing the cornmeal and adding a touch more baking powder to make a moist and light cornbread with the crumb texture only slightly more crumbly than a yellow cake. Alright, I confess. I turned the cornbread into a cake. It’s a corn cake. But it’s freaking amazing! I promise you I have never found a cornbread recipe that is it’s equal. Make this for a family party or to accompany your favorite bowl of chili and you won’t have any leftovers. EVER.
And since I’ve found that a great cornbread is even better with a little honey butter. I’ve included a recipe for a knock off version of Texas Roadhouse’s cinnamon honey butter. The butter calls for equal parts honey, butter and a little powdered sugar. Though the powdered sugar amps up the sweetness a touch I’ve found it makes the honey butter a little more stable at room temperature which means you can serve this with cornbread at your favorite Fourth of July BBQ without it turning to soup.
Some of you may argue that the honey butter sounds a bit more like a frosting. What can I say? Call this combo corn cake with honey cinnamon frosting, call it cornbread with honey butter. It doesn’t matter what you call it really. Because you’re going to call it delicious!
XOXO – Kristi
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 2/3 cups milk
- 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Preheat 400 degrees F.
- Grease and flour and a 9x13 baking dish.
- In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. In a small bowl combine eggs and milk. In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt.
- Add a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture then add half of the milk/egg mixture and mix until well combined. Add another third of flour mixture and the remaining milk/egg mixture and mix. Add the final third of flour and mix until just blended.
- Pour into greased baking pan. Bake for 22-27 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares; serve warm or cool completely.
- Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.
- When I make this cornbread I have been known to let the butter and sugar mix in the stand mixer for good LONG time. If you whip the two until they are almost white in color then beat the heck out of the eggs and milk, your cornbread will be incredibly light and fluffy.
- Just go easy with the mixer after you add the final addition of the flour. To keep a delicate, buttery crumb only mix the final addition of the dry ingredients until they are just combined.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Combine all ingredients. Blend until until smooth and creamy. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator.