Tom Sawyer-Style Cornbread? Yes Please!

Posted May 30, 2019 by Amber in Bookish Things / 0 Comments

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A little while back, I did a post featuring Alison’s Wonderland Recipes.  I adore the concept of this blog – it’s totally unique.  Alison creates recipes based off different foods eaten in books another pop culture platforms.  She works largely with classic novels, but here and there, there’s something more modern.

I have a bunch of her recipes in my digital collection to try, but the one that’s been there the longest is her recipe for Missouri-Style Honey Cornbread with Bacon.  This recipe is inspect by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. And…damn.  This is the best cornbread I’ve ever had.

So, obviously, I had to share it with you guys.

This is not gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, keto… or frankly healthy in any way.  This is stereotypical midwest sweet and fattening cornbread and it is so so good, but there’s calories galore.  That said… I recommend this recipe so so much.

So lets get into this!

First step of the recipe is to fry up the bacon.  I never, ever, ever fry my bacon, so I’m already rebelling from this recipe.  In our house, we bake the bacon at 400F for 9-12 minutes (depending on crispiness).  I like to bake it to the somewhat-in-between place… not floppy, but not crispy, either.

I made the bacon early and let it cool before chopping it.

Now, the recipe calls for you to grease the pan with bacon grease… and I opted out on that too.  We used good old-fashioned Crisco.  Alison suggests bacon grease to infuse the bacon flavor a little more, and that would probably help, because the final product is not very bacony.  I think I’d add another piece or two of bacon next time.

At this stage, I also chopped the bacon.  You don’t need it until the end of the recipe, but I like to tidy as I go and I wanted to wash the baking sheet, so I did it a bit early.

Also, please don’t mind the cluttered counter.  I’ve got a few kitchen implements I’m just not sure what to do with… like the various attachments to our Ninja.  What do you guys do with extra blender blades?  Suggestions welcome!

First in are the dry ingredients – cornmeal, sugar, and the like.  I use my KitchenAid for mixing anything when I’m baking.  In my house, we don’t have any handheld mixers anymore – it’s just us and the KitchenAid.  We don’t have a lot of space for extra kitchen appliances, and the KitchenAid does everything we need.  I can’t recommend it enough.

So, if this isn’t already abundantly clear from me loosely following directions, I’m a rebel.  This recipe, like most baking recipes, call for the wet and dry ingredients to be mixed separately.  I never do this, and it has not failed me. I understand the reasons are related to chemical reactions in the various ingredients that will create a richer final product, but I’m not a professional cook.  So immediately in goes the honey.

Honey and molasses are two items that are not my favorite to use in baking.  I love the final products, but the honey is sticky and gooey and drips forever, haha.  This recipe calls for a half cup of honey, and it’s a strong flavor in the final product.  If you don’t like honey, maybe cut the honey in half?  Only I’m not sure what that would do to the consistency of the cornbread, which comes out very lovely and moist.

I was good though.  I didn’t add all the wet ingredients at once.  After the honey and the eggs, I did mix everything together.  Already this was smelling good.

The recipe calls for the milk to be added slowly, and that is what I did.  I wanted to watch the consistency of the batter to make sure it didn’t thin out too much – I always worry about that in baking, because flat and crisp baked goods are not great (personal opinion).  However, it all came together really nicely.

This was the point where I made the executive decision to add half the bacon in the batter rather than sprinkle all of it on top.

Because I hadn’t used bacon grease in the pan, I made the choice not to dab the grease off the bacon before I chopped it up.  At the time, I was really worried about that decision – what if the grease created an inconsistency in the batter or there were weird pockets?  Fortunately this was a non-issue and in fact, having the extra greasy bacon probably worked out for me, because it added a smidge of bacon flavor.

The batter poured really nicely in the pan, chunks of bacon and all.  I always find it quite satisfying to pour baked mixtures into a pan and scrape the bowl clean.  The last active step between making the food and having it done.

I am really glad I mixed the bacon in – if there was one thing that I would change about the original recipe, it would be to mix in the bacon.  Adding the bacon in general was Alison’s addition to the original recipe she started with, and it’s such a smart call.  It adds a salty twinge to balance out the richness of the honey, and it’s quite nice.

I sprinkled the rest of the bacon on the top of the cornbread, as the recipe originally called for.  After all, garnishes are nice, right?  It looks quite pretty.

Also as a note, it is much yellower in person.  The filter I use for my photographs these days tends to wash out warm colors.  This is nice and properly yellow in person.

After all this, it’s time to put it in the oven!  This bakes for about an hour, and it’s one of those nice, aromatic recipes that makes your entire house smell like a restaurant.  So wonderfully scrumptious.

Et voila, here it is!  Perfectly browned on top and smelling heavenly.  Really, I can’t emphasize enough how delicious this is and how good it smells.  It did crack a little bit on the top where the bacon was sprinkled on, but otherwise it’s just perfect – browned on the edges and everything.

Texturally, it somehow manages to be both very moist and very crumbly.  The pieces of cornbread are very thick.  This recipe claims nice servings, but honestly?  Each of those pieces could probably be cut in half.  I think this recipe would work in a 9″x13″ pan as well for thinner pieces, but having not attempted that myself… try at your own risk.

It also keeps really well.  We had leftovers for a week that were just as good as day one.

I like to take my cornbread warmed up and drizzled with honey.  Even though there’s already a lot of honey in this, it’s still delicious that way.  As I said, this is crumbly, so if you like to spread a little butter on your cornbread, I would recommend that you use soft butter, as I’m not sure how well chilled butter would spread on this.

Honestly?  This is one of those really tasty cornbread recipes that doesn’t need anything on top of it?  It stands really well alone.

For the full recipe, make sure you head over to Alison’s Wonderland Recipes.  And check out her other recipes while you’re there! 🙂

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Do you enjoy baking?  I don’t mind baking and I love the end product… but I don’t like the clean up! 🙂 Leave me some of your favorite cornbread, roll, and bread recipes in the comments!

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