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i know there’s a whole Thing about northern cornbread vs. southern cornbread and sugar and authenticity and all that. can we just call a truce, though, and all agree that cornbread with pumpkin and nutmeg is better than cornbread without? that seems fairly non-controversial, no? (ha! just let me pretend for a moment, ok? it is october, after all, and what is october if not the time to cram pumpkin into everything? usually with delicious results, i might add…)
the original recipe for spiced pumpkin cornbread that i found, which sounded good in theory, called for jerk seasoning. intrigued, and unwilling to buy something premixed that would almost inevitably contain a lot of salt, i started wandering around the internet, searching for jerk seasoning recipes.
as i’m sure you can imagine, i found a bunch. and as i’m sure you can also imagine, each one had 50 – 70% of its ingredients in common with all of the other recipes and then the rest of the spices that that particular recipe called for would be totally unique to that recipe.
without a strong internal sense of how jerk seasoning should taste or which spices it should contain, i did what i’m sure anyone in my position would do: i made an excel spreadsheet and tried to come up with The One Perfect Recipe for jerk seasoning. no? just me? ok, well, you’re smarter than i am, in that case.
about 20 minutes into the important nonsense of trying to create a “common denominator”, if you will, to calibrate the relative quantities in all of these recipes, i gave up, picked the one that seemed to have the most in common with its friends, ignored any spices that only one or two of the recipes called for, and was relived to see that i had engineered a blend that only required buying one additional spice (what do people use onion powder for anyway?).
only then did i finally get around to actually making this spiced pumpkin cornbread. and, surprise, surprise, with everything going on in there, my husband and i both thought there was a little bit of a weird flavor in the version with the jerk seasoning. we weren’t able to definitively pin down what it was but we’re giving the side eye to the paprika.
what i noticed i did like, however, was the nutmeg. it was a little bit hidden underneath all the clutter, but it was there and i liked it. (also, let’s be honest, one spice we (probably) already have in the cabinet is better than blending up 8 – 10 spices, some of which invariably require a grocery run. to say nothing of the fact that as much as we *think* we will use the rest of that spice blend in another recipe, “we” (read: i) won’t…)
so, luckily, version two (nutmeg only) was much better than version one (spice party). i’m all for it when the simple version tastes better than the complicated version, so i declared testing over and happily sat down with a bowl of salsa verde turkey chili and a piece of this spiced pumpkin cornbread.
pasta with easy pumpkin sauce (a favorite since college)
pumpkin chocolate chip cake (another favorite since college and this recipe was part of last year’s virtual pumpkin party, which means there are another 4,725 or so pumpkin recipes linked in that post)
- 60 g. (1/2 cup / 2 1/8 oz.) all-purpose flour, see notes
- 57 g. (1/2 cup / 2 oz.) white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose flour)
- 138 g. (1 cup / 4 7/8 oz.) cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 large eggs
- 269 g. (1 cup / 9 ½ oz.) pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 142 g. (packed 2/3 cup / 5 oz.) light brown sugar
- ¼ cup (2 fl. oz. / 60 ml) extra light olive oil
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. grease the bottom and sides of an 8” x 8” (20 cm x 20 cm) baking pan (i used glass).
- in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the two flours, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
- in a medium mixing bowl, use the whisk to beat the eggs lightly. whisk in the pumpkin, sugar, oil, and molasses.
- pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined (a few lumps are better than overmixing).
- bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. let the cornbread cool for 5 – 10 minutes in the pan, then run a thin spatula around the edges and turn it out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. keeps for 2 – 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature but don’t expect this cornbread to last a lot longer than that. luckily, i don’t think you’ll have to worry about scrambling to finish leftovers…
as written, this recipe is already dairy free. i tested some versions with king arthur flour measure for measure gluten free flour and could not tell the difference between that version and the version made with king arthur flour all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour. so i can vouch for at least that gluten free version (use 117 g. / 1 cup to replace all of the gluten-filled flours).
adapted from ‘spiced pumpkin cornbread’, which ran in a kenmore ad in a magazine years ago. (i don’t know, i found the clipping in my overstuffed folder of recipes to try…)
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