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Peter Reinhart’s Fresh Cut Corn Bread with Bacon

I first made and fell in love with this corn bread two summers ago when I was diligently working my way through Peter Reinhart’s book for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge.  It was a fantastic bread – rich and sweet and moist with sweet corn bursts and bits of salty bacon.  The texture was unlike any corn bread I had ever experienced, thanks to Mr. Reinhart’s method of soaking coarse ground cornmeal in buttermilk overnight before making the bread.  Yes, it takes a bit of planning, but it’s worth it.

When I realized that our Summer Fest group would be talking about corn this week, I decided to revisit this bread.  I haven’t been eating much bread or corn lately due to my self-imposed dietary restrictions, but I really wanted to make this for a special someone in my life who loves corn bread and hadn’t tasted this delicious version.

Since I’m trying my best to remove highly refined flours and sugars from my diet, I changed the original recipe a bit and substituted whole wheat pastry flour for unbleached all purpose and used organic whole cane sugar in place of the white and brown sugars.  The recipe turned out just as delicious with my changes, but feel free to use whatever flour or sugar you prefer.

Although you can use frozen corn kernels, I highly recommend you use the freshest sweet corn you can find and cut the kernels yourself.  I used fresh-picked local sweet corn from the Fresno State Farm Market and the flavor and texture was just perfect.


Skillet Corn Bread with Fresh Cut Corn and Bacon
adapted slightly from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

1 cup coarse cornmeal or polenta
2 cups buttermilk
8 ounces bacon (approximately 10 thin slices)
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all purpose flour or a combination)
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup whole cane sugar or sucanat (or brown sugar, white sugar, or a combination)
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (cut from approximately 3 fresh ears of corn)
2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat

special equipment: 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet (alternatively, you can use a 10-inch round cake pan, a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, or a 12-inch square pan)

1. The night before baking the corn bread (or at least 8 hours before baking), soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight or until ready to make the cornbread.

2. To prepare the bacon, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out the bacon on two sheet pans.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until bacon is crisp. Using tongs or a fork, remove the pieces to a pan lined with paper towels to cool. Drain off the fat into a can or stainless steel bowl and save for greasing the corn bread pan. When the bacon has cooled, crumble it into coarse pieces.

3. Lower the oven setting to 350 degrees. Pour 2 tablespoons of bacon fat into a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven to preheat while you prepare the corn bread batter.

4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Dissolve the honey into the melted butter and then stir the warm honey-butter mixture into the eggs.  Add this to the soaked cornmeal mixture along with the whole cane sugar and stir to combine. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until the batter is blended and smooth – it should be the consistency of thick pancake batter.  Stir in the corn kernels until they are evenly distributed.

5. With good pot holders or oven mitts, carefully remove the hot cast iron skillet or baking pan from the oven and tilt it to grease all the corners and sides. Pour in the batter, spreading it from the center of the pan to the edges.  Sprinkle the crumbled bacon pieces evenly over the top.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the corn bread is firm and springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  The top will be a medium golden brown.  If using the 12-inch skillet, the baking time will be about 30 minutes, but if you use a smaller pan, the baking times will be longer, perhaps 40 – 45 minutes.  Keep checking until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares or wedges.  Serve warm.

Related Recipes:

Corn Recipes from my Summer Fest Friends:

How You Can Join in Summer Fest

Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? You can contribute to our online recipe swap in various ways, big or small.

Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Matt Bites).

To join the Summer Fest conversation on twitter, use the hash tag #cookingwith.

Summer Fest 2011 Posting Schedule

June 22: Eggplant – missed this one!
July 6: Peaches
July 20: Cucumbers
August 3: Cherries – missed this one!
August 17: Corn
August 13: Tomatoes
September 14: Broccoli