High Altitude Cornbread

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Sometimes I get marriage proposals over my food. This is one of those recipes.

Cornbread may not sound like much because typically it is dry and crumbly. My recipe is different. Being at altitude, I had to really ‘amp’ up the moisture, so there’s plenty of buttermilk and eggs in this recipe to give it the perfect texture, even way up here. I used to bake this recipe at sea level and it was delicious, so when I moved to Colorado I adapted it. The original recipe came from the website www.allrecipes.com.

I typically make this cornbread at the restaurant for our family meal. The kitchen and front of house staff have this meal every evening before service begins. In past jobs, I’ve had some pretty lousy staff meals, but we eat rather well at the restaurant. Usually this cornbread is the accompaniment to smoked chicken, chili, or bacon macaroni and cheese. I bake off two large pans of it, and right before our meal, I pull them out of the oven, generously brush a layer of spicy honey butter over the tops, and cut the steaming cornbread into squares. Everyone gets excited when they see the platter on the line.

At the end of summer, I played off a sweeter variation of this cornbread and used blue cornmeal to create a “blue corn cake” that was served with caramel corn, caramel sauce, blueberry compote, and sweet corn ice cream.

The batter comes together quickly and this is a great beginner recipe for first time high-altitude bakers. It will restore your confidence and is perfect for Super Bowl Sunday.

One note, this recipe is adjusted for 8,000 feet. Below or above this altitude may require further adjustments.

High Altitude Cornbread

1 cup unsalted butter
1 2/3 cup sugar
5 eggs
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean pod, split and scraped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the sugar and eggs until smooth. Add the buttermilk and baking soda, and whisk well. Finish by adding the cornmeal, flour, salt, and vanilla. Whisk until the batter is combined and still a little lumpy. The key is to have a very light, tender cornbread, so you want to avoid overmixing the batter and thus developing too much gluten.

Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 13 pan. If you wish to invert the cornbread, line it first with parchment paper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the center springs back lightly when touched and the top and edges have turned a beautiful golden brown.

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There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Made this for New Years Day…RAVE reviews from everyone! Thank you.

  2. I live at 9000 ft and made my first batch of cornbread from my friends recipe at sea level :(( Needless to say it was lacking! Looking at your recipe I see the amount of sugar and I have to ask if it makes it really sweet? I like sweet cornbread sometimes but can this be adjusted? Thanks, Tammy

  3. I had a grocery bag break and a whole container of cornmeal wound up busting on the ground. I made due with the 1 1/2 cups I had on hand and substituted flour for the other half cup. Still worked like a charm at 5900 feet. Spiked some white bean chicken chili with half of a ghost pepper, and the sweetness of this bread complemented the heat of the dish perfectly. I also whipped up a quick brown sugar crumb that I sprinkled over half the pan before baking – it made a great, light dessert to tie everything off.

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