Easy, Quick Marie Calendar's Cornbread
Love moist, sweet cornbread? My mother gave me this quick recipe years ago for making homemade cornbread that tastes just like my favorite restaurant brand, Marie Callendar's. It tastes fantastic with chili or with my favorite navy bean and ham soup.
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24 muffins or 1 loaf pan
- 1/2 box yellow cake mix
- 9 oz (1 1/2 packages) cornbread mix
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup milk or water
- 1/3 cup oil or 1/2 cup applesauce
Step-by-Step Photo Guide
- In a bowl, combine yellow cake mix and cornbread mix. Mix together. (Note: I usually combine 1 box of cake mix and 3 packages of cornbread mix and save 1/2 of this for a second batch later, about 3 cups.)
- Add eggs, milk (for a richer cornbread) or water (lighter in calories), and 1/3 cup oil (or substitute 1/2 cup applesauce for a lighter version).
- Mix with a fork until well blended. Pour into 24 greased muffin tins, or into a greased loaf pan or 8 x 8 baking pan.
- Preheat oven to 350. For muffins, bake for 20 minutes. For an 8 x 8 loaf pan, bake for 35 minutes. Don't overbake cornbread or it will get dry. It should be golden and will spring back when touched but might leave a little indention.
Tips and Tricks for the Best Cornbread
Although cornbread is quick to mix together and easy to bake, it is also one of the types of bread that can easily get too dry. Here are some tricks to make your cornbread taste great.
- Bake in a loaf pan or deeper baking pan. The deeper the pan, the more moist the cornbread will be. I like a silicone loaf pan because it seems to hold the moisture in better and it makes the cornbread easy to take out later.
- Don't overbake. Usually, when you test a cake to see if it is done, you want it to spring back when you touch it with your finger. Cornbread is a heavier type of bread and it will spring back but you might see a slight indention afterward. Generally, if the top is lightly browned, it is done. If you are still worried, you can poke the middle of the cornbread with a toothpick to see if the middle is still batter or whether it is fully baked.
- Cover the cornbread with foil after taking it from the oven: If you find you have baked it a little too long, you can preserve the moisture by covering the cornbread with foil while it is still hot.
- Serve with flavored butter: I've always loved honey butter and when started adding flavors to it, I discovered a whole new way to make my cornbread (and other bread) taste great. I also love to serve the butter at room temperature by using a Butter Crock so it spreads easily and doesn't tear the bread.
- Serve with molded butter. I've recently discovered that you can use silicone molds for shaping regular butter, honey butter, or margarine. This turns your cornbread into a fancier meal for guests or a party. Just press the butter into the mold. Harden for a short time in the refrigerator or freezer and then pop it out. You can serve these molded butter on a plate or put inside paper cupcake or candy holders for easy serving.
- Let the kids make the butter. Having a party that includes kids? Keep them busy and let them help you prepare by making the butter for the cornbread. All you need is heavy cream, small plastic or glass containers with good lids, and marbles.
History of Cornbread
Did you know that cornbread is one of the main foods used by the early settlers? You probably remember that corn (maize) is an American crop developed by the Native Americans and shared with the Pilgrims. Cornmeal is a nutritious and easily stored grain that was often the cheapest and most widely eaten food of many of the pioneer settlers. They would take large bins of cornmeal with them as they traveled, or they would bring dried corn with them and then grind it for making a variety of dishes including:
- Corn pone: thicker corn dough, baked in a skillet
- Johnny Cakes: thinner cornmeal batter made with milk and eggs and cooked like a pancake.
- Hush puppies: round dough, deep fat fried
- Grits: dried corn, soaked in calcium hydroxide (a kind of salt that increases the nutritional value of the food) and then cooked
- Hominy: softened corn grains, ground and mashed to make dough for corn tortillas and tamales
Cornbread and Native Americans
Thousands of years before the English came to America, the Native Americans had developed corn through a breeding program from a plant with small grains into one with much larger grains. Used in many parts of the United States, the development of corn allowed the Native Americans to live in permanent settlements rather than remaining as hunter-gatherers.
Cornbread and the Civil War
Both sides of the Civil War relied on cornmeal as a staple to feed their soldiers. Cornbread can be baked, fried, steamed into pudding, or cooked in a skillet, so it could be cooked no matter what the circumstances the soldiers found themselves in.