In Kentucky, where my husband spent part of his childhood, cornbread is traditionally baked in a cast-iron skillet. A couple years ago, I shared a handwritten buttermilk cornbread recipe from my husband’s former babysitter, Edith, a Kentucky native. She would bake and then broil her crisp, unsweetened cornbread in a bath of oil. With brown sugar and a swirl of homemade strawberry jam, this recipe is a sweeter version of the original. I used milk, a more basic kitchen staple, in place of buttermilk, added a splash of vanilla extract, and filled the skillet with olive oil for extra flavor. If you don’t have a 10-inch skillet on hand, a baking pan works just fine.
Strawberry Swirl Skillet Cornbread
1 cup cornmeal (I used coarsely ground)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup olive oil or other vegetable oil, for skillet or baking pan
Heaping 1/2 cup strawberry jam, or homemade version (see below)
Quick Homemade Strawberry Jam
1 pound fresh or frozen strawberries, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Juice of ½ lime
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place oil in a 10-inch skillet or baking pan. If preparing quick homemade jam: Bring strawberries, water, sugar, and lime juice to a boil in a covered, medium-sized saucepan. Remove lid and let simmer on low heat until thick and much of the water has evaporated. Remove from heat (you should end up with a heaping 1/2 cup of jam) and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, brown sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in milk and vanilla until just combined. Pour into prepared baking pan or skillet. Spoon strawberry jam on top and swirl throughout batter with a fork.
- Bake until set, around 20 minutes, until surface begins to turn golden brown. (In the original recipe, the cornbread is baked for 15-16 minutes, then broiled for 2-3 minutes. Feel free to try this method if you’d prefer.)
- Remove from oven, and let cool in the baking pan or skillet. Run a knife around the edges to remove, and cut into pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container; the cornbread is best eaten within a day or two.