Monday, June 13, 2011

Tayberry Cornbread

I saw a recipe for Blueberry Cornbread in the weekly newsletter from CUESA (the Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture) - the folks who make the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market happen - and bookmarked it immediately.

Odd, because 99% of my cooking is savory and I tend to avoid having desserts around unless I'm going to distribute all but a serving to others. I'm no saint, and I'm very well acquainted with my weaknesses - but this dish spoke to me. I like that it does not have much sugar and there was something about that juicy, bubbly fruit nestled in the  cornbread that I could not resist.

...and I had tayberries that weren't getting any younger. Tayberries are a cross between a logan berry (itself a cross between a blackberry and a red raspberry) and a black raspberry, developed in Scotland in 1979. It is a very fragile berry when ripe and I've never seen them in the grocery store. The taste is a bit more wine-y and a lot more subtle than a raspberry and I absolutely love them. They make a fantastic jam - even a little sugar makes the already lovely flavor intensify exponentially.  Normally, I buy them in smaller quantities and just eat them (my default mode for summer fruits).

I purchased them on Saturday and by Sunday I knew I'd have to either make something, eat them all or risk them developing mold - even in the refrigerator stored in as shallow a layer as possible to keep them from being crushed.

One note: I used the cornmeal that I had in the pantry - a coarse grind that is better suited to a hearty polenta than to this cornbread. I will use a fine grind the next time. I think it affected my batter and cooking time (it took about 12 more minutes to cook than the recipe specified).

Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries - any juicy berry will do the trick if you don't have access to tayberries. And definitely cook it in a cast iron skillet if you have one - I love the way the crust turns out. If not, a Pyrex 8" square casserole will do the trick.

Oh - I used twice the amount of berries called for - very smart move on my part.
The remainder are wrapped tightly as individual servings in the freezer but I ate every last speck of the serving I had. I think this dish would make a great base for a shortcake-type dessert. A square split horizontally would not be perfect due to the clumps of berries but who cares about perfection when it's topped with more tayberries lightly sugared and just slightly macerated under a dollop of whipped cream and more berries?

Recipe: Tayberry Cornbread

Adapted from Kimberly Hasselbrink's (The Year In Food) adaptation of a Sunset Magazine recipe.

Yield: about 9 servings

1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
1 1/3 cups cornmeal
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups fresh tayberries, divided (...or blueberries, raspberries, blackberries...)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees - oven rack middle.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Fold dry mixture into wet. Gently fold 1 cup berries into the batter.
  • If using a skillet, warm it over a low flame and pour the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet – enough to coat. If using a 8" square Pyrex baking dish, pour the remaining tablespoon of butter in the backing dish and use a pastry brush, or crumpled piece of paper towel to butter the inside of the dish.
  • Pour batter into skillet. Distribute the remaining 1 cup of berries over the top of the batter and push them down into the batter, but leave a little showing on top.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 9 wedges (round skillet) or squares (8" square pyrex)

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