I take cornbread quite seriously, not in the "north versus south" cornbread debates, but in the "I have 4 specific cornbread recipes for different seasons" kind of way- this one is my favorite when sweet corn is in season, or if I’ve frozen enough sweet corn to get me through the winter.
I can't recommend using corn from the grocery store, as the sweetness you want here comes from truly fresh corn, picked the day you buy it, hence the name “summer cornbread”. That being said, I blanch and freeze summer sweet corn and use it in this recipe with good results- just thaw and drain it before sauteing as instructed below.
If you're not down with spicy food, omit the jalapeño, or temper the heat by removing the seeds and ribs inside the jalapeño. I've been enjoying this cornbread as a meal, alongside scrambled eggs with black beans and roasted cherry tomatoes for breakfast, or as a simple dinner alongside perfectly ripe, sliced tomatoes and sweet onions and sharp cheddar.
1 1/4 cups organic cornmeal, medium or finely ground, or a mixture of both
1/4 cup all purpose flour (a gluten free blend works well if desired)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or 3/4 cup whole milk whisked with 3/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt. I substitute 3/4 cup sour cream in lieu of whole milk plain yogurt if that's what I have)
9 tablespoons butter, divided
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
3-4 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob (thawed and drained frozen sweet corn may also be used)
1 tablespoon honey
Coarse salt to finish, like Maldon or Jacobsen
Preheat oven to 375.
In a 9 or 10” cast iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, and add the corn kernels and diced jalapeño. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, seasoning with a few large pinches of salt, and remove from heat. You're looking for a little caramelization of the corn's sugars, so saute until you see some golden color forming on the kernels. If you're using thawed and frozen sweet corn, you may have to saute for a bit longer to achieve a nice golden color.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, salt, baking soda, sugar, and baking powder until combined. Melt five tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, let cool slightly. In a bowl or large measuring cup, add buttermilk and egg, whisking until combined, then add melted butter. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, and gently mix until batter is smooth.
If you want to bake your cornbread on top of the sautéed corn, simply
pour batter onto corn and jalapeño in the skillet, and place in oven on the middle rack. Alternatively, you can gently mix the corn and jalapeño mixture into the batter, then pour the batter back into the skillet.
Bake until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, in my wildly unpredictable oven this takes about 20 minutes, but check yours at the 15 minute mark and go from there, trusting your instincts. Immediately spread honey and the remaining two tablespoons of butter on top of the hot cornbread, and sprinkle with a coarse finishing salt. Let cool for a few minutes and serve warm.