Bacon Cheddar Cornbread

Ladies and gentlemen, Fall is here!  The leaves are changing and the hot, smoky summer days that plagued the Pacific Northwest this year are finally over.  Nothing warms you up at dinner time on a chilly evening like a cup of chili…and what goes best with chili?  Cornbread!

This ain’t your mama’s cornbread though – it’s King Arthur Flour’s “Bacon Cheddar Cornbread.”  Deliciously crumbly and infused with bacon and cheddar, the flavors of this cornbread pair perfectly with a spicy chili – it won’t disappoint, I promise!  In addition to the cheddar and bacon flavors, this cornbread recipe includes cumin, which gives it a “warm, toasty” flavor without the heat that other spices would have.

Here’s the recipe as copied from my own King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (6 and 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (3 and 5/8 ounces) yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 and 1/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
  • 1/4 cup (1 and 3/4 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (4 and 3/4 ounces) cooked corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 6 ounces (6 to 7 slices) bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8-inch square pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cumin in a medium-sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vegetable oil and add to the dry ingredients.  Stir in the corn, bacon, and cheese.

Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until it’s golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove it from the oven and cool on a rack.

……………………………….

Now, for those of you who like a little more direction, I’ll go step-by-step into how I carried out the recipe!

My first step was to make the bacon crumbles.  (You can certainly used packaged bacon crumbles, but where’s the fun in that?!)  For this recipe, I used an applewood smoked bacon I picked up at the local grocery store.

I started by heating up my old cast-iron skillet (thanks for the hand-me-down skillet, Grandma Dot!) on a medium to medium-low heat.  While that was heating up, I also started pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

I then placed the bacon in the skillet with no oil, butter or grease – the bacon will make plenty of grease without needing anything else to keep it from sticking.

Bacon Skillet

After about five minutes, I flipped the bacon on the other side and let it go for another five.  Once the bacon was nice and crisp, I took the slices out of the pan and let them rest for another five minutes.

Once I did that, I placed the slices on a baking sheet and popped them into that warm oven to crisp up just a bit more.  I did it for about five minutes, but I’d recommend just keeping an eye on it until it looks nice and crisp.

Oven Bacon.jpg

Learning Tip:  Next time, I will probably cut the slices in half to make sure I get the ends nice and crispy in the pan.  Because I hadn’t done that, after the middle of the slices were nice and crisp, I took them out of the oven, cut off the ends, set the middles aside, and placed the less-crisp ends back in the oven for another five minutes.  It was the long way around, but it worked!

Once all the bacon was nice and crisp, I took a sharp knife, placed the bacon on a cutting board, and diced it up into crumbles.

Bacon Crumbles.jpg

After getting my bacon crumbles ready, I then kicked up the empty oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  I then took my 8-inch square pan (the one I used was a glass Pyrex pan) and sprayed the insides with a non-stick baking spray (the one that has flour in it).

Next, I whisked the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cumin together in a bowl.

Whisk

Next thing was to cook the cup of corn I had purchased.  I used frozen corn for this recipe, and it turned out great.  I placed the corn in a saucepan with a half inch of water and cooked it for two minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.  Once it was nice and hot, I drained out the water and set the corn aside.

I then cracked open a large egg and dropped it into the bowl of my Kitchen-Aid mixer, beating it for 15 seconds on low.  I then added the milk and the oil to it, and mixed it for another 15-20 seconds.  Next, I added those dry ingredients (the ones in the picture above) to the milk, egg, and oil in the mixer, and beat it on low for 30 seconds.  Then I dumped in the cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles, and started mixing it.  While it was mixing, I took a spatula and pushed the dry ingredients stuck to the side of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients got mixed nicely together.  This took about a minute and a half to complete.

After the batter was ready, I took a spatula and spread it into the greased 8-inch baking pan, trying to make sure it was smooth and even throughout the whole pan.

Batter

Then it was time to finally pop it into the oven!  I carefully placed it onto the middle of the center rack and let it bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Once the timer dinged, I took the pan out and placed it onto a wire baking rack, letting the whole thing cool for twenty minutes.

In pan

After it had cooled a bit, I sliced it up and served it with a nice turkey chili I had made in my Crock-pot earlier that day.

Here’s the final product:

Main Photo

I’d definitely recommend this recipe to anyone – it’s fairly easy, makes your house smell incredible, and all those flavors together really brings cornbread to a whole new level!

If you tried this recipe out, let me know how it turned out for you!  I’d love to hear it!