Simple Buttermilk Cornbread

Yesterday was an absolutely amazing day here in west Michigan, almost 60 degrees and sunny in January - what?? Crazy, but simply wonderful! It felt like late spring which I am a big fan of. I took a walk with a light jacket and sunglasses and loved every minute of it! However, this is definitely NOT normal for late January and today it's back to reality. Wet, cloudy and cold. Sigh. 

One of my favorite parts of winter are all the stews and soups and braises that are the perfect thing for cold, damp days such as today. I think my favorite of all is a thick and jammy chili with ground beef and beans, peppers and spices and lots of tomato. Mmmm. I don't like my chili thin and soupy, I want it nice and thick, sweet and spicy and covered in melted cheddar cheese! And what is chili without cornbread? Sad is what it is. There is no question in my book that when chili is on the menu, cornbread is going in the oven.

I have several cornbread recipes on this site already and I love them all. Recently however I was looking for a very simple cornbread recipe that wasn't quite as rich and sweet as most of these other recipes. Just a good, basic cornbread that was full of corn flavor and more rustic than some. More on the "Southern cornbread" side of things. This recipe that I adapted from Bon Appetit was perfect. A little richness from the buttermilk and egg with a little bit of butter, and just a hint of sweetness from one tablespoon of brown sugar. This is a chili lover's cornbread for sure. 

I adapted the original recipe to fit a 6-inch cake pan. This is the perfect size for me when I'm baking for myself, but if you want to use a standard pan check out the original recipe. I used locally ground coarse cornmeal in my bread which is sweet and slightly crunchy and delicious. I highly recommend seeking out some good quality cornmeal, it's worth the effort. Now head into the kitchen and get that chili started, you have cornbread to make!

 
 

Simple Buttermilk Cornbread
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup (80 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup (105 grams) stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoons (12 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 6-inch round pan. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk together egg, and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Whisk egg mixture into dry ingredients until just combined (batter will be slightly lumpy). Mix in butter.

Scrape batter into baking dish and bake cornbread until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25–30 minutes.

Lilac Blossom Almond Scones

I've been aware for some time now that there are quite a few different edible flowers out there; nasturtium, squash blossoms, chive blossoms, lavender, even marigolds and pansies to name just a few. Up until this point however, other than playing around with some lavender (lavender shortbread cookies!) I really haven't done much with these flowers. I decided to change that this spring when I saw the lilac bushes start bursting with their beautiful flowers, perfuming the air when I take walks. It is one of the best smells imaginable. 

It was a video I saw earlier this spring from Kitchen Vignettes that first peaked my interest in playing around with some lilacs. Then my sister showed me this recipe for lilac blossom scones from Holly and Flora and I knew I had to make them. I did a little urban foraging one morning, coming back home with a bag full of lilac blossoms. Into the scones they went, and I also made a quick lilac blossom simple syrup that I've been using to make vanilla and lilac tea lattes (yum!) all week. So although the lilacs blossoms will soon disappear for another year I will thankfully have the memory of these buttery and delicious scones to hold me through until next spring. 

The flavor of lilac blossoms is quite mild, so don't be afraid that these scones will taste like perfume or potpourri. They lend a quiet floral flavor and aroma to the scones without being overpowering. The almonds add a nice crunch and obvious nuttiness that pairs well with the blossoms. I think the addition of a little bit of white chocolate would be a wonderful third component, but I didn't have any on hand at the time so I wasn't able to try it out. Next time!

Some people might be a little intimidated by scones if they've never made them before, but they really are so easy to make. A few things I like to keep in mind: make sure your butter is very cold before starting, don't over-mix the dough once you add the liquid, and don't add too much liquid or your dough will be too soft and the scones may be a little tough. I usually don't add all the liquid right away, just to make sure I don't add too much. You can always add more as needed. You only want as much liquid as necessary to just hold everything together, and not any more. 

This is a fairly basic buttermilk scone recipe, with the addition of lilac blossoms and almonds. Wonderfully simple and delicious. I made my scones on the smaller side, halving the original recipe and cutting them half as big as what was originally called for, but if you want bigger, more coffee-shop sized scones, make 4 scones out of the recipe below (or double it and make 8 as in the original recipe). 

 
 

 

Lilac Blossom Almond Scones
Adapted from Holly and Flora
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) flour, all-purpose
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) toasted, chopped almonds
  • 3/4-1 cup lilac flowers
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken well (I actually used a mixture of liquid whey and half-and-half because that's what I had and it work wonderfully)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top

Directions
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk the ingredients together. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes and toss into the dry mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture, until pea-sized lumps of butter are present. 

Add the almonds, lilac blossoms, vanilla and buttermilk (a little at a time) and fold together in the bowl with your hands just until the all the flour is moistened and the dough holds together. Make sure to not over-work. Lightly flour the ball of dough and flatten it out on the counter, by hand, into a 1/2 -3/4 inch thick disk. Cut the dough into triangles and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly dust with turbinado sugar. (At this point I usually place my scones in the freezer for at least 30-60 minutes to firm up. This step is not absolutely necessary, but I find that scones bake up taller and more beautiful when they chill a little first. You can actually freeze the scones entirely, transfer them to a plastic bag and store them in the freezer. Then bake directly from the freezer when needed, adding a few more minutes to the baking time if needed. This is a great time saver on mornings when you want a fresh batch of scones, but don't want the hassle of making them that morning.) 

Bake 12 to 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until turning golden brown on the edges. Serve warm, plain, or with a little butter and your favorite jam. 

Yields: 4 large or 8 small scones

Cranberry Apricot Bran Muffins

I know it's Wednesday and I have yet to post something this week. I try to post a new recipe every Sunday but a lot happened in the last week and over the weekend so I just didn't get around to it! Big news: I've moved! While I've been in med school, I've been living with my parents in the suburbs to help save a lot of money. It's been good, and it was a smart decision, but I reached a point where I felt like it was time for me to move out once and for all. To be honest, I wasn't even looking for an apartment but the perfect place kind of just fell into my lap. In 2 days I'd signed the lease and started moving in. I've been in my new place for only a couple of days now but I am loving it! While all of this has been going on I also started working nights for a couple of weeks so I am really all messed up, but it's okay, especially now that I have my own place to come home to. 

I hope to put up a post soon to show everyone my new place and give more details about how it all happened so fast. Until then however, these muffins will have to do. I love me a good bran muffin, especially one that is heavy and hearty and dense (in a good way). These muffins are just that. They are definitely branny, just how I like it. There is not a lot of sugar in them, so if you have a big sweet tooth you may want to add a bit more for your taste, either that or add in some sweeter fruit. I used cranberries and some frozen apricots that I had, both quite tart and not super sweet. Some nice ripe strawberries or blueberries would probably help up the sweetness if that is what you're looking for. But whatever you decide, these are a great, hearty way to start off any day on the right foot. 

A little butter, a little sugar, a lot of bran and a nice amount of fruit all come together perfectly in these little treats. The original recipe called for oil, but I decided to swap it out for some melted butter. Seemed to work out just fine. Butter just seemed more "right" in these so I just did it. But if you'd rather use oil go for it. This recipe also called for citrus zest, optional but I highly recommend it. I really like citrus zest in my baked goods, especially orange zest, it really adds a wonderful flavor and brightness. I didn't have an orange when I made these so I used some clementine zest instead which worked well. I don't think it has quite the punch as orange zest, but it worked well in a pinch. All in all these are a great way to start off your morning with a little treat that actually feels like breakfast and not dessert.

Cranberry Apricot Bran Muffins

Adapted from 

Smitten Kitchen's

 Blue Sky Bran Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups (315 ml) buttermilk 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 clementine (orange zest would be fine too), optional but highly recommended
  • 1 1/2 cups (90 grams) wheat bran
  • 1 cup (125 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2-4 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chopped mixed fruit (I used frozen apricots and frozen cranberries)

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees F and coat a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Whisk buttermilk, egg, melted butter, brown sugar vanilla and clementine zest in a small bowl. Whisk bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix your fruit with 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir wet mixture into dry until partially mixed, then add in the fruit and continue to mix until just combined and still a bit rough.

Spoon batter into each prepared muffin cup. Sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining sugar to taste. 

Bake muffins for a total of 14 to 16 minutes, rotating pan once midway through baking time for even browning, until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Let muffins cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

Yields: 10 muffins

Cherry Almond Buttermilk Bread

I seem to be posting a lot of buttermilk recipes lately. Too much buttermilk, what a happy problem to have. I found this recipe for basic buttermilk quick bread with variations on The Kitchn and wanted to give it a try. Since I had a couple of jars of canned cherries in the basement I decided to throw those in along with a little almond extract. I would have added some chopped almonds too but I didn't have any. Add a simple glaze to the top and you're done, quick and easy. This bread is nice for a quick snack, or along with your breakfast. It's not rich or super sweet, but sometimes that's okay. 

Like I said, this bread is definitely bread, it is not cake masquerading under the title of bread. It's heartier less sweet than cake and a lot of quick breads. Sometimes this is perfect, just what I need. I liked the addition of cherries and a glaze to add some sweetness, but you can also make the bread savory too and add in herbs and cheeses, peppers or onions, just about whatever you can think of. Check out the link for some ideas. It's a nice, versatile recipe to have on hand in case you need it.

Cherry Almond Buttermilk Bread

Adapted from 

The Kitchn

Ingredients

For the Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 jar of canned cherries, drained, mixed with a tablespoon or two of flour

For the Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • a couple teaspoons cherry juice (or water)

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray a standard 9x5 loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together buttermilk, egg and vegetable oil.

Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Gently stir and fold the ingredients until all the flour has been incorporated and a shaggy, wet batter is formed, adding in the cherries towards the end of mixing. Be careful not to over-mix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and pat it into the corners. Bake for 45-50 minutes. When finished, the loaf should be domed and golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and slicing.

Wrap baked loaves tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Baked loaves can also be wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil and frozen for up to three months.

Clementine Buttermilk Cake

This simple buttermilk cake was the result of trying to find another something to do with leftover buttermilk. I love baking with buttermilk, so it's always exciting when I have some leftover and have to find a way to use it up. Another excuse to bake is fine by me. Recently I seem to be drawn to single layer cakes that are perfect for an afternoon snack, or an after dinner dessert. I love the elegant simplicity of this type of cake, and I love being able to eat a slice of cake without feeling like I consumed pounds of sugar and butter. To jazz up this cake just a little bit, I added just a hint of clementine zest which beautifully complemented the slight tang of the buttermilk. Eat this cake just as it is, or add some berries or whipped cream for a little extra specialness, whatever you decide, you won't be disappointed. 

I didn't manage to get a picture of the cake before I had a slice or two, but that doesn't matter. If you look closely you can see a few tiny flecks of orange from the zest, so pretty. This is an easy cake to put together. It's just rich enough to make it special, but not overly sweet or heavy. Perfect for a satisfying, yet light treat. 

Clementine Buttermilk Cake

Adapted from 

The Broken Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1-2 clementines (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Directions

Set rack in center of oven, and pre-heat oven to 350F

Mix together all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffly, about 3 -4 minutes.

Add in eggs one at a time, making sure fully each one is fully incorporated before the addition of the next. Mix in the zest and vanilla, and beat until contents are smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternatively. Beginning with 1/3 of the flour mixture then 1/4 of the buttermilk, repeating, and ending with the flour. After the last addition of the flour, mix a few times, scrape down the sides, then finishing mixing the batter by hand with spatula.

Pour contents into an 8 or 9-inch cake pan that has been lightly greased with butter, and bake at 350F for about 28-30 minutes, rotating cake halfway through. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake, the cake will be down when the tester pulls out with just a few moist crumbs.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack, and removed cake when properly cooled.

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins

Any time some chocolate can find it's way into my breakfast I know it's going to be a good day. These muffins are a delicious way to ensure a great day ahead. They are easy to make, and use simple ingredients that I always have on hand. There is plenty of chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder and chocolate chips, and buttermilk and melted butter add tenderness and lots of yummy flavor (and yea for melted butter! It makes everything just that much easier!). Unlike some other chocolate muffins I have made, these don't have chocolate melted into the batter, but it doesn't seem to matter, they have tons of flavor even without that, and it saves on doing that one extra step. If you're looking for a chocolate pick me up for breakfast, look no further and head into the kitchen. 

Double Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins
Adapted from Hummingbird High
Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate chunks or chips

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 (F) and prepare muffin tins with muffin liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar until a pale yellow. Add 1 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and whisk until just combined. 

Sprinkle the dry ingredients evenly onto the surface of the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to fold until combined, with one or two flour streaks left in the batter. Add the chocolate chunks, reserving a few for the top if desired, and fold into the batter until just combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter between the muffin tins, filling them about 2/3s of the way full. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with the remaining chocolate pieces. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 16 to 18 minutes or until the tops look set and a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out almost clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before turning out onto the wire rack to cool completely.

Buttermilk Banana Bread

One of my biggest pet peeves is throwing leftover ingredients away because I don't know what to do with them. This happens to me every once in a while, and it really bugs me. There are a few repeat offenders that I deal with more often than others. Two come to mind right away, cream cheese and buttermilk. Both are ingredients that I absolutely love, but often recipes call for only a small amount of them, so then I'm left with the rest. Since both cream cheese and buttermilk can be used in so many different ways, throwing them away is a shame. A couple weeks ago I made a red velvet cake for a potluck and was left with a half used container of buttermilk that I vowed would not go to waste. I searched through my recipes to find some way to use it. This recipe popped out at me and sounded perfect. I love banana bread, but had never it with buttermilk, it sounded like a winner to me. This recipe turned out very nicely, it was buttery and tender with a slight tang from the buttermilk, a wonderful combination. Never again should I throw away a half used container of buttermilk!

 Creaming the butter and sugar

 Bananas, the star of the show

 Mash up the bananas

 Add the eggs, bananas and buttermilk

Mix!

Golden brown and beautiful

Perfect for breakfast with some butter or peanut butter

Buttermilk Banana Bread
From: Two Peas and Their Pod
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (3 medium sized bananas)
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Directions
Grease and flour 1 large loaf pan. Set pans aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla until the batter is well mixed.

Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and soda. Mix until well combined. Divide batter into greased and floured pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let bread cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Loosen the bread with a knife and carefully remove from pan. Finish cooling on rack. Slice and serve once cooled.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

I know I've posted a lot of pumpkin things lately, but this is probably my last one, so if you are sick of pumpkin just bear with me. Personally, I don't ever get sick of it. Since muffins are always at the top of my list of things to bake, pumpkin muffins were a no brainer this fall, and these muffins didn't disappoint. A nice basic pumpkin muffin, topped with a simple streusel, they are pretty and tasty. Sometimes a simple recipe is just the thing I'm looking for. If you need a easy but delicious pumpkin muffin recipe, this fits the bill.

I actually made these muffins twice in the last couple of weeks, first for myself, and the second time to share with friends at school. For the first batch that I made, I used the streusel recipe that I found with the muffin recipe. This is the streusel that is shown in my pictures. I thought it was very pretty, and tasted quite nice, but just didn't quite cut it as a streusel topping for me. It was a little too floury. I prefer my streusel to be chunky and buttery, so for the second batch I used a different streusel recipe which worked out very nice. I've listed both options below; either one you choose will be very tasty, it's just a matter of opinion. What really matters is just that you make these muffins. They are the perfect breakfast treat for a chilly fall morning!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Adapted from: Buns In My Oven
Ingredients
For the muffins:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Streusel topping option #1:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter

Streusel topping option #2

  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
For the streusel, combine the flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside. 

For the muffins, cream together butter and sugars until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs and molasses. 

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and mix into the batter. Stir just until combined. Fill paper lined muffins cups 2/3 full with batter. Spoon streusel topping over the muffins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 375, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Enjoy!