Confession: I like my cornbread sweet
I’m coming clean—as a Northerner, I prefer my cornbread sweet. Preferably, made with maple syrup, and served hot, slathered in salted butter. It works as a side, and it’s not wrong the next morning. My Maple Cornbread with Whipped Salted Maple Butter is a decidedly northern cornbread. This small-batch, skillet cornbread bakes enough for a few servings, and it might not even get to cool before it’s gone.
Some consider sweet cornbread heresy
Some consider this kind of cornbread heresy, kinda like chili with beans, only worse. I remember an essay where Sarah Vowell’s mother, hailing from Oklahoma, dismissed the sweetened cornbread Sarah made: “You don’t make cornbread,” she told me, in the same deflated voice she uses to describe my hair. “You make johnnycake.”
OK, fine. If it makes you feel better, you can call this johnnycake as well, but know that I call it cornbread. Also, this isn’t pancakes.
Skillet Maple Cornbread has a few other twists
Just to get it out of the way, there’s another couple of twists in here—it replaces the buttermilk with Greek yogurt. I’ve also replaced half of the stone-ground cornmeal with corn flour. These twists give it a tang and also lightens it without sacrificing the chewy crumb. If you haven’t fainted yet, stay with me, because this Skillet Maple Cornbread is scrumptious.
Whipped Salted Maple Butter an homage
The Whipped Salted Maple Butter is an homage to Vinal Bakery in Somerville, Massachusetts. I used to walk past there after dropping Ollie Dog off at doggy daycare on my way to work. They had a whipped butter sweetened with maple syrup that made those divine English muffins sing. I confused it with the more traditional maple butter, which is simply whipped maple syrup (well, not simply, because that stuff is food of the gods).
No, Vinal’s maple butter was butter whipped with maple syrup, and I still dream about it. So, I made some, seasoning it with flaky sea salt for this recipe. Excellent decision, if I do say so myself.
You’ll be eating Skillet Maple Cornbread in no time
To begin, preheat your oven and put a small cast iron in it to heat. Whip the maple butter and season it with flaky sea salt. Then melt the butter for the cornbread. There’s a lot of butter in this recipe.
Once you have the butter melted, whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wets in another, adding the corn kernels to the wets. Add the drys to the wets, mixing until just incorporated (don’t worry about a few lumps). Then, pull the skillet out of the oven, add the remaining butter and brush with a pastry brush before adding the batter to the hot skillet.
Bake for about 17-20 minutes, checking after 10. Skillet Maple Cornbread is done when the edges have turned golden and the center no longer jiggles, being careful not to overbake. The top may not have taken on that much color—that’s OK.
Slather with Whipped Salted Maple Butter
Serve hot with a generous dollop of the Whipped Salted Maple Butter. Have seconds. Maybe thirds. I won’t tell if it’s gone before the pan cools.
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Small-Batch Skillet Maple Cornbread with Whipped Salted Maple Butter
- 1 5" cast-iron skillet with deep sides a 6.5" skillet may be used, but the cornbread will be flatter and may bake faster
- 1 scale
- 1 hand mixer
- 1 silicone basting brush
For the Whipped Salted Maple Butter (makes extra)
- 4 tbsp unsalted good butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- flaky sea salt to taste
Skillet Maple Cornbread
- 22 grams yellow cornmeal
- 22 grams corn flour
- 60 grams AP flour
- 50 grams granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp neutral oil
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ cup corn kernels fresh or canned is best, frozen is fine, but thaw them first and drain them
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup Greek yogurt, plus 2 tbsp
- 1 tbsp butter at room temperature
Make the Salted Maple Butter (Makes Extra)
- In a bowl large enough for a hand mixer, add the 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, and the 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Mix with the hand mixer until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.4 tbsp unsalted good butter, 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Season with flaky sea salt. If not using right away, chill in the refrigerator. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days (it's lovely on toast!).flaky sea salt
Make the Cornbread
- Preheat oven to 350F/177C. Place rack in the middle of the oven and put the skillet on the rack to heat
- In a bowl, add the cornmeal, corn flour, AP flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and whisk to combine22 grams yellow cornmeal, 22 grams corn flour, 60 grams AP flour, 50 grams granulated sugar, ¼ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp baking soda, ½ tsp baking powder
- In a separate bowl, large enough to hold all the ingredients, add the melted butter, neutral oil, maple syrup, the egg, and the Greek yogurt. Whisk to combine, and then add the corn kernels and whisk again3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, 2 tbsp neutral oil, 3 tbsp maple syrup, ¼ cup corn kernels, 1 large egg, ½ cup Greek yogurt, plus 2 tbsp
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix until just combined (a few lumps will not hurt anyone). Do not overmix
- Remove the skillet from the oven and melt the remaining butter. Use a silicone brush to spread the butter around the skillet and up the sides1 tbsp butter at room temperature
- Add the batter to the pan and smooth out the top. Bake at 350 for around 17–20 minutes, until a paring knife comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake, as this will dry out the cornbread. You just want the middle to not jiggle anymore and the edges to brown slightly and pull away from the sides of the skillet,. The top may not brown
- Serve hot, with a generous dollop of Salted Whipped Maple Butter. For leftovers, remove from the skillet and cool completely on a plate and then wrap it tightly. Keep covered on the counter for 2-3 days