AP Apple upside down cornbread is pictured in Coronado, Calif. Cornbread is a versatile dish because it can be prepared savory or sweet. Photo by: Melissa d'Arabian via AP
August 9, 2017 10:43:38 AM
Cornbread has always had a bit of an identity crisis in our house: Is it savory or is it sweet? Does it replace dinner rolls or dessert?
This very dilemma may be what I love most about cornbread: It can go either way.
Usually, we veer more sweet than savory, topping cornbread and muffins with a quick homemade maple or honey butter, a welcome break from the pot of chili I often serve at the cornbread's side. Sometimes, though, I'll dabble in savory territory, adding actual corn kernels or smoky chipotle powder or chopped roasted poblano peppers into the batter. Either way, leftovers make their way onto the breakfast table the next morning, either spread with a bit of coconut oil and marmalade (sweet) or topped with a poached egg, black beans and salsa (savory). Cornbread, fast and easy to make, is a versatile bread to put in the dinner basket.
Inspired by the gorgeous tarte tatins of France, lately I've been sauteeing up tart granny smith apple slices in a little butter and then covering them with everything from oven-puffed pancake batter to oatmeal-bar dough. When I decided to make my quick weeknight cornbread one evening, I had a few extra minutes to spare, so I sliced up the last couple of apples in the fruit basket and sauteed them to bake under the batter. The result looked more like a cake than a cornbread, which ended up being a huge plus with everyone in our family.
The buttery apple layer was thin, but kept the cornbread moist with its syrupy edge. Unsweetened applesauce adds tenderness without a ton of fat, while also adding a tiny bit of sweetness. Because most of the sugar is on the outside of the bread, it tastes sweeter than the few tablespoons of brown sugar might suggest. Which means I really could serve this cornbread for dessert.
APPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CORNBREAD
Start to Finish: 40 minutes, plus cooling time
Yield: 12 slices
For the apple mixture:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 large or 2 small granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the cornbread:
1 cup cornmeal (fine or medium)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or low-fat dairy milk
1 tablespoon melted butter (or olive oil)
Nutritional information: 129 calories; 38 calories from fat; 4 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 43 mg cholesterol; 205 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 3 g protein.