Jalapeño and cheese cornbread


Although I do love baking as a hobby, the fact is that it's possible to get great bread from the local bakery or even the supermarket here in Switzerland. So, most of the day to day baking I do is of quick-bread type of things.

Quickbreads, or breads made with leavening agents other than yeast or natural yeast, aren't really a part of continental European baking tradition. They are a part of British, Irish (with such things as scones, soda bread and such) and definitely American cooking tradition though. I love all kinds of American quick-bread recipes, such as biscuits or muffins, but cornbread is one of my favorites.

I made this cornbread for dinner a few days ago. It's quite rich so you don't need much else, though of course you can serve it with a barbeque, or chicken, or chili or whatever strikes your fancy. We had it with some chili with kidney beans. It would make a nice meal by itself with a salad. It also freezes very well, and works great as a take-along lunch and such. However, it is at its best fresh out of the oven.

Don't be afraid at the amount of jalapeños in this - when it's baked the heat becomes quite mellow. If you are timid however, decrease the amount to 1 small jar.

This is adapted from a recipe that appears in Bernard Clayton's New Complete Book of Breads, but the heat has been turned up quite a bit and I use whole corn instead of creamed corn. I made this change initially because it's just about impossible to get creamed corn here in Switzerland, but it turns out that the whole corn works even better somehow. Mr. Clayton also uses non-fat dry milk all the time in his recipes, but I prefer to use fresh milk. There are several other adjustments made which I think makes it even better.

This is a recipe that's best made with a food processor, though you can of course do it by hand.

Jalapeño and cheese cornbread

  • 2 1/2 cups of yellow cornmeal (or medium-grind polenta)
  • 1 cup of regular white flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 400g or 16 oz can whole corn
  • 2 small jars of sliced jalapeño peppers, drained
  • 2 cups of grated aged cheese (Gruyere or Cheddar)
  • 1 large onion

Preheat the oven to 200° C / 425° F. Grease two square or rectangular pans, about 25cm / 9 inches square or so. (I always use a 25 cm square brownie tin and a small Pyrex glass loaf pan.)

Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Cut up the onion and chop it in the food processor. Add the eggs, oil, milk and cream and process until mixed. Add the can of corn with the liquid and process briefly. Add the jalapeño peppers and pulse just until they are a bit chopped (but not too fine). (You can also use whole canned jalapeños, but in that case take off the stalk parts.)

Gradually mix the liquid into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Stir in most of the cheese, reserving some for the top.

Pour the batter into the pans, about 2/3rds full. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes until a wooden skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Variation: add some bacon bits (sautéd and well drained), or cut up proscuitto ham, to the batter.

Filed under:  bread cheese quickbread cornbread retro

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Sounds great! Why is it so red on top, though? You chopped up the only item that's even potentially red (the jalapenos) ... did they rise to the top somehow, or did this batch have an extra tomato layer or something?

Nate, it's reddish-brown on top from the cheese that is sprinkled on top, that gets sort of crispy. The jalapenos are the green kind actually.