As the seasons transition from summer to fall, most people seek out more comforting fare. Cornbread is an ideal way to gradually move from one to the other by taking the dried crushed summer vegetable kernels and paring it with herbs reminiscent of cooler months.
Rosemary’s strong fragrant pine wood aroma infuses an already basic, but satisfactory, quick bread into a mouthwatering side dish. Stir in a good handful of sharp cheddar cheese, and you’ve got a cozy side dish for any stew, soup, or even on its own with a pad of melted butter slipped in between.
The trick to making certain the cornbread has that perfect ratio between crumb and moistness in this recipe is to use a 1:1 mixture of milk and plain yogurt in lieu of buttermilk and a ton of butter. Don’t worry though, there’s still butter, but it’s put to better use by coating the inside of a hot baking pan to create that crispy crunch that can make or break any good cornbread.
Rosemary Cheddar Cornbread
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1¼ cup fine cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Rosemary flowers optional
Preheat your oven to 400 F with the rack set in the middle and an 8x8 inch baking pan inside.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
Remove the stems from the rosemary and finely mince it on a cutting board before adding it to the dry ingredients. Whisk once more to evenly distribute the rosemary throughout.
Whisk the milk and yogurt together in a separate bowl. Pour the eggs into the milk mixture and whisk again to combine. Pour the olive oil in and whisk just to combine.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the milk and yogurt mixture into the center. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
Pour the honey into the bowl and stir well. Add most of the cheddar cheese to the batter, making certain to reserve some to go on top, and fold it into the batter.
With pot holders, remove the 8x8 inch baking pan from the oven. Add the butter to the hot pan and tilt the pan to let the butter melt and coat the inside of the pan’s bottom and sides.
Pour the cornbread batter into the pan and lightly tap the bottom on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese around the top of the batter and add rosemary flowers on top.
Bake the cornbread for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the top has become a dark golden brown all over.
Remove the cooked cornbread and allow it to cool about 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces. Serve warm.
Do not skip warming the pan in the oven before buttering it! This allows the bread to get that beautiful crunchy crust around the outside regardless if you have a cast iron skillet or just a regular baking pan to cook it in.
STEP ONE – PREHEAT OVEN
Turn the oven on to 400F and set the rack to the middle position. Put an 8×8 baking pan in the oven to heat up while mixing the cornbread batter
STEP TWO – MIX DRY INGREDIENTS
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and soda, and salt. Make sure everything is evenly distributed and there are no lumps in the mixture.
STEP THREE – ADD ROSEMARY
Pluck any rosemary flowers from the springs, setting them aside for later, and run your fingers along the stems in the opposite direction of the growth of the needles to remove them easily.
STEP FOUR – MIX WET INGREDIENTS
In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the milk and yogurt together. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk well between each. Make sure the eggs are broken up and mixed in well. Add the olive oil and mix again.
STEP FIVE – COMBINE WET AND DRY INGREDIENTS
With a wooden spoon, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients before pouring the milk and yogurt mixture into it. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry by pulling the dry into the center from the outside as you mix. This should keep lumps from forming. Continue to mix until it’s all mixed in really well and no dry flour is stuck to the bottom.
STEP SIX – ADD HONEY AND CHEDDAR CHEESE
Pour the honey into the bowl and stir it until the batter is smooth.
Add about 2/3rds of the cheese to the bowl and fold it into the batter.
STEP SEVEN – BUTTER THE PAN
With pot holders, remove the baking pan from the oven. Put the butter into the pan, and while still using the pot holders, tilt and turn the pan.
This will help the butter move around the pan to coat it without having to touch the hot pan with your fingers. If necessary, use a wooden spoon to move the butter around to finish coating the bottom and sides.
STEP EIGHT– POUR CORNBREAD BATTER INTO PAN
Pour the batter into the hot pan. Pick the pan up about a half inch off the counter and drop it to remove air bubbles from the batter as well as to distribute the batter more evenly across the pan.
STEP NINE – TOP CORNBREAD BATTER AND BAKE
Sprinkle the rest of the leftover cheese on top of the batter along with the reserved rosemary flowers.
Put the pan back in the hot oven and allow it to bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top. Insert a toothpick in the center and pull it out. If no wetness is on the toothpick, it’s ready.
STEP TEN – REMOVE CORNBREAD FROM OVEN
Take the finished cornbread out of the oven with a pot holder and allow it to cool about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan and cutting into 12 pieces.
Rosemary isn’t the only way to make this recipe seasonal, try using thyme, oregano, sage, or even swap out the herbs for spices such a cinnamon and nutmeg. Forget the cheese and add slices of pear or dried cranberries for a more holiday-friendly version!