1 March 2014

Ham and cheese cornbread - oh my word!

I was looking for some sort of carbohydrate to go with the BBQ Meat Loaf (see previous blog post), that didn't involve potato when I hit upon this little beauty.

I knew that all the family like cornbread, so there was no problem there.  We all love cheese and ham - and the spring onions that were used in it would be well cooked, so no problem there either.  All that was left to do was to include it on the menu plan on a day when I could split the cooking, as trying to do cornbread and a meatloaf at the same time would not only pickle my brains, but pretty much leave me good for nothing thereafter.

So - Saturday it was!  A perfect day, being between the healthy fish dish and our roast chicken that's planned for tomorrow.  Lots of time to split the cooking, too.

Now I have a cornbread recipe on the blog already, however, I just had a little scan around the interwebs for alternatives more as a control to make sure my recipe was as good as it could get.  What did I find?  Well, this recipe here - Iron Skillet Ham & Cheddar Cornbread.  Do click on the link, as the Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen blog it came from, is filled with luscious things that are well worth investigating further!

Needless to say, I don't have an iron skillet.  However, a cornbread recipe is a cornbread recipe and I reckoned it wouldn't hurt it to be cooked in the usual tin that I cook my cornbread in, in the oven.  I also skipped on things like onion powder and garlic powder, neither of which I particularly like - and decided not to include the sweetcorn.  Everything else, I went with (I think!).

Just look at that - all beautiful and fluffy!
The measurements are in cups as they often are with American recipes, which gave me the opportunity of using my ceramic measuring cups that my parents had given to me for Christmas.  They're a lovely shape and have a great handle that is easy to hold - very useful when your gripping function isn't as great as it could be and you're carrying a cup full of flour!

As with all cornbread recipes, it's a simple matter of combining the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another bowl, then adding one to the other and including your flavourings.

I found that I didn't have quite enough buttermilk, so included a couple of tablespoonfuls of Greek Yoghurt.  They're pretty interchangeable for a recipe like this and it certainly didn't appear to do any damage!

I also reduced the sugar from 3 tablespoonfuls (yikes!) to 2 when I was copying out the recipe.  However, by the time it came to putting the sugar into the mix, I decided to decrease it even further by a half a tablespoonful - and I reckon I could have just gone with the one!  I'll be doing that in future and have reflected it in the recipe below.  By all means add more if you like your cornbread sweeter.

Served with BBQ meat loaf and baked beans
I spent a moment or two dithering as to whether to use sunflower oil or rapeseed oil in the mix.  The rapeseed won, entirely due to its increased health benefits of being low in saturated fats (50% less than olive oil!) and high in Omega 3, 6 and 9.  Although as I reflected when pouring it into the mix, it tastes better too!

Do remember to invest a little time in buttering your tin (I covered mine with silver foil to help with the washing up later on) as it makes the cornbread so much easier to get out of the tin - and makes the crust taste amazing!

Again, do be careful of the amount of salt you include - cornbread can take a good deal of salt as the corn meal needs a decent amount to help the corny flavour along.  Do remember, however, that you're including mature cheddar cheese which can be inherently salty, along with the ham which also has a degree of saltiness.  However, having said that, it didn't stop me from sprinkling just a teensy bit of sea salt on the surface for that lovely salty hit every so often.

Just 25-30 minutes in the oven and your tastebuds are tingling from both the look and the smell of this gorgeous cornbread.  Too bad we all had to wait until dinner time to get lashed into it!

HAM AND CHEESE CORNBREAD   (makes 16 pieces approx)

Ingredients :

3-4 slices dry cured ham, diced
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
4-5 spring onions, chopped
1 cup plain flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt (plus a tiny pinch to sprinkle on top)
one and three quarters cups of buttermilk (or plain yoghurt)
a quarter of a cup of rapeseed oil
2 large eggs, beaten
a knob of softened butter.

Method :

1.  Use the knob of butter to grease a medium sized oblong roasting tin.

2.  Combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

3.  Combine all the wet ingredients into a smaller bowl.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir quickly until almost combined.

5.  Add the cheese, ham and onions and stir through quickly.

6.  Pour the batter into the roasting tin and level the surface.  Dot with a little extra butter if you're feeling naughty.

7.  Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200degC/400degF/Gas 6 for 25-30 minutes or until a cocktail stick inserted into the middle, comes out clean.

8.  Remove from the tin onto a baking tray and leave somewhere away from overkeen family members, to cool.

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