I love making everything from scratch, but some things are just easier to buy. So there are times when you have to find a creative way to split the difference. For me, the easiest dish to buy without compromising on flavor is cornbread mix.
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Most mixes, especially if you're using cornmeal, will yield a well-made cornbread. For the purpose of making this recipe constant by measurements, we'll be using two standard Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix boxes (8.5 oz. each), which creates enough cornbread to fill a 9x9 baking pan.
Follow the initial instructions on the box that require 2 fresh eggs and milk, but add a little more milk (about 1/8 of a cup) to moisten the finished bread (and make it a little denser, too).
Who'd a thunk it—adding fresh corn is an easy way to make cornbread taste homemade without any extra effort on your part. Any kernels will do: fresh, canned, or frozen (and you don't even have to thaw them). I prefer fresh sweet corn, if it's available. Just add a 2/3 cup of corn directly to the mix and stir to combine.
The problem with boxed mixes is their lack of flavor, or love as we call it down South. Add 2 Tbsp. of honey to your mix and you will definitely taste the love (if you don't feel it already). As with the corn, stir well to incorporate the honey into the batter.
Follow the instructions for baking temperature as written on the box—to save on time, it's best to pre-heat the oven before combining the ingredients.
Be sure to generously coat your baking dish with oil, butter, or spray before adding your cornbread batter. Pour the batter evenly into your baking dish and follow the bake time as indicated... but add 5 minutes of bake time at the end to accommodate the extra ingredients you've added into the mix.
Your cornbread is done when it's golden brown and passes the toothpick test (if you put one in, it should come out clean). Additionally, the center should be firm to the touch, indicating the center is cooked through.
Once you take it out of the oven, let your cornbread cool down before removing it from the pan to prevent sticking. If you're running short on time and have to serve it right away, be sure to cut the cornbread while it's still in the baking dish for a cleaner cut.
The best part about baking cornbread, other than the heavenly smell that circulates through your home while its baking, is your first bite into a freshly-sliced piece. Each bite of this amazing cornbread will have both juicy kernels of corn and natural sweetness from the honey. Whatever you do, though... don't forget the butter!
How did this work for you? And do you have any tips for time-saving techniques that don't sacrifice flavor? Let us know in the comments.
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