By Stephanie Burt
In case you missed it, there is a great debate over cornbread, actually two camps. One camp believes that a little sprinkle of sugar in the cornbread batter makes everything better; the other thinks such a suggestion is heresy.
Chef Alex Harrell of Angeline in New Orleans is obviously of the latter camp. In fact, it’s such a well-known fact in his kitchen that he and his chefs started joking that sweet cornbread should actually be cake, and well, a recipe was born.
“We bake cornbread multiple times a night,” Harrell says, “and we used heirloom red cornmeal (milled locally) and local buttermilk, so we hate to waste the leftover cornbread. This cake started out as a joke, but it’s really in line with what we do at Angeline, to be cost effective and sustainable.”
Harrell further asserts that this is inspired by an Italian olive oil cake and a Southern pound cake that at once reuses cornbread in the kitchen and still captures all that buttermilk and corn flavor, then transforms it into dessert, cooked skillet-style just like the original cornbread. The cast iron provides a nice crust which will hold up to fresh berries and a healthy dollop of whipped cream for serving, which you can do right from the pan, or cool slightly and flip out onto a plate for a more dramatic presentation.
Note: Store any leftover cornbread flour in an air-tight container in the freezer for an easy fish or chicken breading.
1 10-inch cake of leftover cornbread
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
¼ cup of the cornbread flour
¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons orange blossom water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or whipped cream
PRINT THIS RECIPE
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Fine crumble leftover cornbread, spread across sheet pan and bake until dry, approximately 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Reset oven to preheat to 375 degrees.
Add dried cornbread crumbs to food processor. Grind into flour and set aside in a large bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
In another large mixing bowl, add ¼ cup cornbread flour and all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until evenly distributed.
In a third mixing bowl, add orange blossom water, cream and vanilla.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients to the butter and sugar, adding slowly and carefully folding until all is incorporated.
Add batter to greased cake pan and cook until golden brown and set in the middle, approximately 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
Serve with crème fraiche or whipped cream and berries.