The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

cornbread - first try - crack problem??!!!

restless baker's picture
restless baker

cornbread - first try - crack problem??!!!

hey friends , ok so here is my first try to make an awesome cornbread in oven . i mixed my dry and wet ingredients separately and then mixed them and used a machine to give them some good mix so there is no lumps in the batter . i baked it at 220 degree C for 25 min .

i used this recipe :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEErkOhSrj0

and my baking plate looks like this :

 

here is the top view ( i am not happy with cracks on the top )   : 

 

 

the back view ( looks decent ) :

side view ( i don't know if it looks right or not ) :

on the plate to serve :

ok , so in the end the i liked how it smelled , the texture looked correct , taste was corny and soft . but i wanted mine to look like exactly like the one in the video , more crispy , but instead i go those cracks , i don't like those cracks ? i said it again i wanted mine to be more crispy . so what are you bread lovers think ? any ideas ? suggestions ? 

thank you all 

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Yours looks a bit more pronounced than most I've seen.  The bread pictured in the video also had cracks, you'll notice.  Did you have to double the recipe to fill your baking pan?  If so, that may have given you an opportunity for an error in measuring the ingredients.  Too much baking powder, perhaps?

I'm more curious about the cause for the band of bubbles that run the full width of the bread at mid-height.  That isn't something that I am accustomed to seeing in cornbread.

How did the consistency of your batter compare to the batter in the video (which seemed rather stiff, to me)?

Paul

IceDemeter's picture
IceDemeter

most controversial breads out there, since there are almost as many different "right" versions as there are people!

Honestly, as a quick bread (leavened with baking soda / baking powder), the only real "rules" are that you should be very careful to NOT over-mix it (all the dry ingredients should be wet, but lumps are fine) since that will make the crumb and texture more tough and rubbery, and the the outside is very likely to rise and have cracks (this is not supposed to have the nice even top surface of a cake --- it should have more of a bread-like rise, including cracks). 

Personally, I like working with this base: http://www.joyofbaking.com/CornbreadRecipe.html

I often use a baking pan pre-heated with the butter (for the crunchy crust), or will use a cast-iron or stainless steel skillet, and I will vary the milk / buttermilk, and add or not add different sweeteners (I tend towards maple syrup or honey if I do add), and often cooked corn or bits of cheese or vegetables - all depending on my mood and what I'm serving it with.  My technique for making sure that I do not over-mix is to put the well mixed wet ingredients in to a "well" in the middle of my well-mixed dry ingredients, and then to do no more than 20 gentle folds while giving the bowl a quarter turn each time.  It has always worked well for all of my quick-breads.

In your bake, I would guess that the rather odd row of bubbles / holes in the crumb and density of the rest of the texture is from you over mixing it.  The cracking is fine, as I said, but you'll need to pre-heat the pan with some butter in it and then add the mixed batter to the hot pan in order to get the more crispy sides.

I hope this helps!

clazar123's picture
clazar123

One author called this subject (corn bread) the "3rd rail" of a discussion on southern cooking. Most modern recipes are described as "Yankee" style by southerners. I found info on Yankee and Traditional. Have fun!

I always used the recipe right on the back of the Quaker brand Corn Meal Box. The box recipe uses 1 1/4 c all purpose flour and 3/4 c corn meal. This the opposite of what was in the video. Also, I stir briefly- just until moistened. Overmixing toughens the cornbread as the gluten is formed. Using cake flour would work,too.

Quaker Easy Cornbread

1/1/4 c AP flour

3/4 c Corn meal

1/4 c sugar (I use brown sugar for moistness)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1 c skim milk

1/4 c veg. oil (I have used melted butter)

2 egg whites or 1 egg beaten

Grease 8-9 inch pan

Combine dry ingredients.

Stir in wet ingredients until just moistened. Pour into greased pan

Bake 20-25 min at 400F or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

9 servings

 

However......here is a site that talks about original, old-timey southern cornbread-no sugar, needs heirloom grits to succeed and real buttermilk..

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/11/southern-unsweetened-cornbread-recipe.html

 

This next link is for an unsweetened but a little more modern recipe. Still no sugar.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/southern_cornbread/

I have had original cornbread and I make "Yankee" cornbread. I like the Yankee variety but it is more dessert than bread.

restless baker's picture
restless baker

Dear Paul,

I used the same exact ingredient i just had to use google to change cup size to grams for every ingredient.

I didn’t double the recipe; yes now that you mentioned the cornbread in the video also has cracks in it I didn’t see it first time.

I guess my baking pan is a bit smaller than his but then again his slice seems to be thicker than mine.

I used 6 grams of baking powder. My batter was a little bit runnier but not too much. 350 grams of milk 85 grams of unsalted butter.

 

Dear Icedemeter ,

Mine was finer with no lumps at all because I used mixer to mix ingredient to a fine paste.

Oh you are right, it must have some cracks bug mine was more like aftermath of an earthquake Lol.

one of the big problems for me is that , where I live we don’t have buttermilk and if I want to make some I have to mix some milk with creamy yogurt so I could end up with some buttermilk . . . it’s just a drag

I wanted to use some butter at the end of my baking pan but someone forbid me to do so because she said I might end up with my bread sticking to the pan ...

Oh I get you know, so u just mix wet ingredients well but don’t over mix with when it comes to dry ingredient.... I have to try that later.

Then preheat my pan with butter and then add mixture to it for that crispy effect. That sounds awesome.

 

Dear clazar123 ,

You use 110 grams of white flour and 170 grams of cornmeal?

In time I must look at your recipe and compare it to the one i used from the video and see the difference.

Thanks for the links.

 

Ford's picture
Ford

I just had to enter the fray with my recipe for southern cornbread.Corn Bread

See recipe for Cornmeal Pancakes or recipe for Cornpone (double this one).  Leftover batter may be refrigerated for as long as a day.  Preheat oven to 400°F.  For best results, use a cast iron skillet.  Place the skillet in the preheated oven for five minutes.  Add about two tablespoons of bacon fat (vegetable oil can be used) to the hot skillet and tilt the pan to grease the sides and bottom.  Pour the batter into the hot greased skillet then place it into the preheated oven.  Bake at 400°F for about 30 - 45 minutes or until firm and brown on top.  An instant reading thermometer inserted to the center should read 200°F.  If a glass or lightweight baking dish is used, do not preheat the dish in the oven.  However, be sure the dish is well greased before adding the batter. 

 

Cornmeal Pancakes

2 extra large eggs (4.0 oz, 112 g) (or jumbo size, 4.4 oz., 126 g), separated and at room temperature

1/4 tspn. cream of tartar

1 Tbs. (0.9 oz., 24 g) sugar

1/3 cup (2.7 oz., 77 g)) vegetable oil (or melted bacon fat)

1 tspn. (0.2oz., 5 g)  salt

2 tspn. (0.25 oz., 8 g) double acting baking powder

1/2 tspn. baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

1 1/2 cup (7.5 oz., 212 g) white corn meal

1/2 cup (2 oz. 57 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups (17.2 oz., 488 g) buttermilk

(1/4 tspn. mace – gives a distinctive flavor)

 

Place the room temperature egg whites in a clean stainless steel, or copper, or glass, or glazed pottery bowl (not plastic).  Add the cream of tartar and the sugar.  Whip the egg whites until firm peaks will form.  A wire whisk is best for this.  (If grease or egg yolk is present the whites will not whip easily.  The possible presence of grease is the reason for not using plastic for whipping egg whites)

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are a light yellow color.  Gradually beat in the oil until homogeneous mixture results.  Stir in the baking powder, salt, baking soda, and, if you wish, mace.  Add the corn meal, the flour, and the buttermilk, then beat until smooth.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Do not over mix.  Let the batter stand at room temperature for about one hour or longer.

Bake as griddle cakes on a hot griddle, turning only once when the bubbles appear on the surface.  Serve piping hot with melted, real butter and hot, real maple syrup.

Leftover batter may be poured into a greased baking dish, refrigerated for as long as a day, and baked at 400°F for about 30 - 45 minutes or until firm and brown on top.  May also be baked as cornpone.

This recipe was inspired by the corn cakes my Grandfather Thompson made when I (Ford) was a child.  It has gone through many metamorphoses since I first tried to recreate the result.  My brother, Tommy, says that Granddad would laugh at all the steps in this one.  I am sure he would, but this is NOT his recipe.  I will say that his were thinner; these are lighter.

 

 

 

Cornpone (Corn Sticks)

 

1 extra large egg (or jumbo size)

1/4 tspn. cream of tartar

3 Tbs. (1.5 oz., 43 g) melted bacon fat (or vegetable oil)

1/2 tspn. salt

1 tspn. double acting baking powder

1/2 tspn. baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

3/4 cup (3.2 oz., 106 g) white corn meal

1/4 cup (1 oz., 29b g) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup (8.6 oz., 244 g) buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Beat the egg with a wire whisk or electric beater, and slowly add the melted bacon fat.  Beat in the cream of tarter, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  Add cornmeal, flour, and buttermilk and stir until all is smooth.  Let the batter stand for an hour to let the cornmeal absorb the liquid.

Grease well the cast iron corn pone pans with bacon fat (or vegetable oil) and place them in the preheated oven for about 4 – 5 minutes.  Fill the corn stick depressions to about two-thirds full.  The recipe makes about 15 – 16 sticks.  Immediately place the pans in the 400°F oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the sticks are brown and firm to the touch.  Immediately remove the sticks form the pan and serve piping hot for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack.  They are also good at room temperature.

This same recipe may be doubled and used for Corn Bread (See above.)

 

Ford

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Southern cornbread?  With sugar in it?  Land sakes, boy, that's Yankee cornbread!  Every proper Southerner knows that the sugar goes in the tea, not in the cornbread; just the opposite of what those misguided Yankees do.  My, my, what is the world coming to?  Next you know, you'll be fixing your chicken salad with Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise.

Paul (a native Yankee, with tongue firmly in cheek)

Ford's picture
Ford

Yes, there is some sugar in the corn cake recipe, but not in the cornpone recipe.  The amount used is nowhere as much as is used in "Yankee" recipes and is hardly noticeable.  However, I'm guilty as charged, I did use some, as you pointed out, bless your heart!  Please, omit it from your batches and remain pure.

Ford

MonkeyDaddy's picture
MonkeyDaddy

what "cornpone" is!

I remember watching The Beverly Hillbillies as a kid, and they were always talking about having cornpone with their meals (apparently Granny's recipe was very good).  I never had any idea it was a version of corn bread.

I learn something new almost every time I log in here.  ;-)

Thanks Ford!

     --Mike

Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

That looks an awful lot like the cracks and voids that you sometimes get with 100% rye bread. So maybe the solution is the same - put the batter in the pan, smooth the top then poke it all over with a toothpick (called 'docking') before baking. This will release the gas that is built up under the crust which causes the cracks and voids (maybe, anyway!). Worth a try...

restless baker's picture
restless baker

dear Ford, I wanted my cornbread to be something that everyone enjoys so I made it fresh and also used sugar, thanks for all the recipes, I will try them later on.

 dear Paul, i thin you are right, the original southern cornbread doesn't have sugar in it, whats your fave recipe, share it with me if you can.

 dear Lazy Loafer this time I used the same recipe but I tried the diffrent way of baking it, I didn't poke it but as you said I smooth the top in a wider baking pan.

 

here is what I did this time :

I mixed dry ingredients and wet ingredients together and came up with a batter that was runnier than the one I saw in the video , although I am sure that I weigh ingredients correctly. so I used 60 grams white flour and 225 grams of cornmeal 340 grams of milk 2 large eggs 7 grams baking powder 5 grams salt 56 grams sugar. I baked it in a wide ceramic pan in the oven. everything is nice this time taste , texture , looks , and no cracks but still I have no crust as I wanted , I think it's because I had to tick layers one from ceramic of pan and the other one iron layer from my tray that didn't let the heat get through and make that golden crust at the bottom , what do you think ? what if I fry my batter in a cast iron skillet, does that give me that golden crust?

 

batter the seemed so runny 

gorgeous looking cornbread 

amazing texture and taste 

no crust in the back 

thanks

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Big change! As regards to crust-I always bake my cornbead in an iron frying pan to get that crust. Glass/corningware won't come through for crust.

MonkeyDaddy's picture
MonkeyDaddy

And I preheat it like the Joy of Baking recipe that IceDemeter referenced above.  Heating the pan with a little butter in it before you pour the batter gives it a nice crispy crust.

     --Mike

pmccool's picture
pmccool

my preference is to have a bit of sugar in my cornbread.  In fairness to Ford, his cornpone recipe is classically Southern (despite my ribbing), so I suggest you use his recipe.  It is far more authentic than anything I might suggest.  

Your most recent attempt looks lovely. 

Paul

restless baker's picture
restless baker

clazar123 I think you are correct. Glass/Corningware won't give crusts.  this time I tried my pizza pan.

MonkeyDaddy I must invest in one of those cast iron skillet too. the thing about the Joy of Baking recipe is that we don't have buttermilk where I live, still, the result is pretty amazing since I use high-fat milk. so you are trying to say that I must fry my batter ( like a pancake ) ???

pmccool yeah, i guess this cornbread is more awesome with just some sugar in it, just some would be good. thanks, i am just trying my best and your guidance always help. 

Ok, this time I used a pizza pan because I think it's made of cast iron as well or at least something like that, my batter was more tin and I also coated my pan with butter. i got a better crust on top and button but still, it's not the one I say crusty. taste and texture were good, no problems there. 

do you guys have any link to show me how they make it crusty ??? a youtube link or something. 

thanks 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Because the batter is so wet, you don't get a fired dough crunch but rather a rim around the edge that can be a bit crunchy  and perhaps a bit more bite/crunch where it was in contact with the iron. This is only the outer 1/8-1/4 inch around the rim.  The center and top are always more cakey/crumbly/muffin (depending on the oil and egg content).

If you want really crunchy cornbread, you need to get a cornpone pan. Grease it well!

restless baker's picture
restless baker

dear clazar123 , exactly as like you said, it was crunchy around my bread and yet the middle was cakey, do you think this works ? its Teflon pan for muffins, I suppose it's very close to the cornpone pan that you showed me. 

dear Rube Goldberg , "Johnny Cakes" looks like pancakes, they must be so yummy, I will try them asap. thanks for sharing . 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Delicious but not crunchy.

The material of the pan makes the difference in crunchiness. Cast iron holds the heat and makes the crust.

Fry the johnny cakes in oil for a nice crisp without an iron pan.

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00063RX60/ref=asc_df_B00063RX605152502/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=394997&creativeASIN=B00063RX60&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198087151093&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13488244534508195647&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9019611&hvtargid=pla-350465815408

restless baker's picture
restless baker

dear clazar123 now I see what you mean, I will try to bake it with cast iron. thanks for the awesome link I hope I could buy something similar to that. after all, I want that crisp. 

restless baker's picture
restless baker

Ok, here we go again, this is my newest cornbread, I tried to reduce milk a little and also tried to cook it more but this time in a cast iron pan, please let me know what do you think ??

thank you all for your tips, now I am happy with the crisp and the taste . could you please tell me how the texture of a cornbread suppose to be? I mean mine is not hard or dense but it's not light either, that would be awesome if you let me know how it supposes to be.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

That looks like a muffin top pan! Cast iron? Where did you get that?

The muffins look wonderful! The texture is probably crumbly when you break them in half with a slight cake texture when fresh. Remember, corn has NO gluten so it depends on the recipe. If you look at the recipe I provided above, I use AP flour so my muffins are more cake-like and less crumbly.

Great job! Persistence and experimentation!

restless baker's picture
restless baker

dear clazar123 do you really think so ????!!!  oh, thank you so much. yes cast iron muffin top pan, I found it online in one Persian website http://parmiya.ir/buy-forms-for-cakes-made-of-cast-iron/   now that you mentioned it mine is cakey, I am glad it's not hard on the inside, that would have been so sad. your support, helped a lot along the way .. thanks a lot.