Monday, March 29, 2010

Cornbread with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Cheddar

I know that I have mentioned my love of Momofuku Milk Bar several times on this blog.  Their soft serve flavors are amazing (if a little weird at times), and their cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies are absolutely out of this world.  Speaking of their soft serve flavors, right now they have cream cheese frosting soft serve.  It is delicious topped with their carrot cake crumble or the cornflake crunch.  Run, don't walk there, if you love cream cheese frosting because it's fantastic.  Anyway, along with their cookies and ice cream, they have daily bread specials that are quite good.  A few months ago I had their cornbread, which inspired me to create this recipe.  In the past I kept my cornbread quite simple - with fresh (or frozen) corn and some cheese thrown in for good measure.  Oh and scallions from time to time as well.  This is my first attempt at a really out there cornbread.  I can't take all of the credit since I got the idea from Milk Bar, but I think I deserve at least a little credit for coming up with a pretty delicious and interesting cornbread.

Because I love buttermilk in baked goods (it makes them so moist and faintly tangy), I made this a buttermilk cornbread recipe.  I also like my cornbread on the sweeter side but because I was already adding caramelized onions and sauteed apples, I didn't want to add any sugar.  Instead I threw in some honey.  While I thought about throwing in a teaspoon or two of fresh thyme, I decided against it in the end.  Maybe in the future I will experiment with thyme in the cornbread, but this time I really wanted to taste the interplay between the cheddar, the apples and the caramelized onions.  This definitely isn't your grandmother's cornbread - it is far too funky (in a good way) for that.  The best way I can think of to describe it is to say that it is deeply rich and savory.  And incredibly moist.  If that sounds appealing to you, then give it a try!

Recipe after the jump!

Cornbread with Caramelized Onions, Apples and Cheddar

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
3/4 cup light buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced caramelized onions, cooled (roughly 1/2 of one large onion)*
1 cup apples, cut into 1/4-inch dice, lightly sauteed in butter and cooled (I used a medium Honeycrisp apple, but any baking apple will do)

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Liberally coat an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Whisk dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cheddar cheese in medium bowl to blend.  In a separate bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, and honey to blend. Add apple sauce.  Whisk wet ingredients until blended.  Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients.  Add caramelized onions and apples.  Stir ingredients together until combined (as with all breads, do not overmix).

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake until tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on rack. 

*To caramelize the onions:  In heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat canola oil until hot but not smoking.  Add onions and saute, stirring constantly, until caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Onions will be deep golden brown and sweet.

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