Dan Pelosi shares 3 delicious cornbread recipes perfect for summer

·7 min read
Cornbread
Cornbread

Dan Pelosi is an In The Know cooking contributor. Follow him on Instagram and visit his website for more.

Before the pandemic, I spent my work week in a very tall and very corporate office building located in Times Square. On most days around 3 pm, I would reach the general point of work fatigue that I imagine was common for almost all of us working corporate jobs in towers across the Manhattan skyline. You know, the kind of fatigue that can typically only be solved by spending the five free minutes you can sneak away from your desk being dunked into a vat of good-enough coffee and slapped in the face with a sort-of-okay baked good.

I have to admit, I was luckier than most in that my office building’s cafe had an abundance of delicious corn muffins at all times. The girls who worked there were very willing to slice one in half, butter it up and throw it on the griddle for me. Eventually, I didn’t even have to order it — it just was there when I arrived, harried and breathless, usually at about 3:09 pm. The opposite of a slap in the face, a good corn muffin is like a warm hug, one that has embraced me for most of my life.

My love affair with great corn muffins started with my mom. She made her perfect cornbread recipe often during my childhood — sometimes in a loaf pan and sometimes in muffin tins. The memory of watching her pull a freshly baked loaf out of the oven, slicing it, slathering it with butter and handing it to me with a smile on her face is one that I often reflect on as I eat literally any corn muffin I can get my hands on. Mom knew what I needed, and she served it to me often. My mom spent so much of her time using food to make me happy and to show love. This is a common theme with all of the women in my family — my sister Diana makes this cornbread weekly for her own kids.

Mom’s cornbread recipe still remains a part of my regular baking rotation, especially now that I no longer work at that corporate job in that endlessly tall office tower. The freedom from that life is exhilarating, and I now get to spend my days writing and sharing recipes with my own “kids” — all of whom are grown adults that follow me on my Instagram account. Yes, I call all of my Instagram followers my “kids.” Hopefully that means you, starting right now.

Alone in my kitchen and missing my afternoon cornbread fix, I started obsessively playing with Mom’s original cornbread recipe. A classic “Mom” recipe, it’s one-bowl, requires only a wooden spoon to stir, and takes minutes to make. From there, I wound up creating two delicious cornbread-based desserts: Peach Cornbread Trifle and Berry Cornbread Buckle. With summer produce in full swing, these are two recipes you will want to make immediately! The Peach Cornbread Trifle is the perfect make-ahead dessert, each bite a cool and refreshing summer symphony. The Berry Cornbread Buckle bakes your favorite blend of berries directly into the cornbread batter that sits atop them. Name a better couple, I dare you!

The recipes for Mom’s Cornbread, Peach Cornbread Trifle and Berry Cornbread Buckle are below. Not to sound corny, but I would be honored if you made them all!

Mom’s Cornbread

Credit: Dan Pelosi
Credit: Dan Pelosi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour*

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup whole milk**

* Gluten-free all-purpose 1:1 flour can be used.
**Non-dairy milk can be used.

Tools:

  • A big bowl

  • A wooden spoon

  • Measuring spoons and cups

  • A loaf pan or muffin pans

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

  2. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Grease and flour your pan(s). Place batter in pan(s) and let sit for 20 minutes before baking.

  3. How long you bake this perfect cornbread for depends on what kind of pan you are using:
    Loaf pan: Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tester comes out clean.
    Muffins: Bake 15-20 minutes until the tester comes out clean.
    9×9 pan or similar: Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tester comes out clean.

Berry Cornbread Buckle

Credit: Dan Pelosi
Credit: Dan Pelosi

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour*

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup milk

Filling ingredients:

  • Zest of 1 lemon (or orange or lime)

  • Juice of 1 lemon (or orange or lime)

  • ¼ to ½ cup sugar, depending on how naturally sweet your fruit is

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons flour*

  • Berries: You need enough berries to fill your baking dish, so just eyeball it. This recipe is very laid back in terms of how much fruit and what kind of baking dish you use. Frozen fruit works perfectly here — just defrost fruit before starting the recipe.**

* Gluten-free all-purpose 1:1 flour can be used.
**Some good berry combinations: Mixed berries, blueberry and raspberry, all strawberry, all blueberry, peach and any berry

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

  2. Mix all the topping ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Let sit for 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, grab your berries. If using strawberries, remove stems and chop into quarters. Same idea with peaches. Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries remain whole.

  4. Combine the berries and fruit with the lemon zest, lemon juice, ¼ to ½ cup of sugar, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of flour. Once coated, place fruit into your buttered baking dish. Any baking dish will work!

  5. Pour your cornbread batter on top of your berry mixture in your baking dish. Spread the batter around the dish, leaving some fruit exposed because we love to see it pop through when your buckle is fully baked.

  6. Bake your buckle at 400º F for about 35-45 minutes, depending on the size of your baking dish. As always, test the center of the buckle to make sure the cornbread is baked enough. It will remain a bit wet with the juice of the berries but should still be baked through before removing from the oven.

  7. Once it’s done, serve it up fresh out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream!

Peach Cornbread Trifle

Credit: Dan Pelosi
Credit: Dan Pelosi

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf Mom’s Cornbread, or store bought is fine!

  • 8-10 fresh, ripe peaches

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract

  • 1 lemon

  • Blueberries or raspberries, optional

Instructions:

  1. Slice your peaches and remove pits. Give them a taste for sweetness, then throw peaches into a bowl. If they’re not as naturally sweet as you’d prefer, add a tablespoon of sugar. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over peaches (this will prevent browning). Stir to combine and set aside. Hot tip: I’ve been known to add some fresh blueberries or raspberries into this peach mix — they’re a delicious, fun add!

  2. Cut cornbread into 1″ squares. Set aside.

  3. Grab a bowl and your preferred form of mixer (stand, hand held, a whisk). A chilled metal bowl would be great here, as we are whipping cream, and the cold always helps it whip faster. Add a quart of heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whip cream until nice, stiff peaks have formed. Taste and adjust from there (some people like sweeter; I tend to like it less sweet so the peaches can have their moment).

  4. Grab your trifle bowl. Again, a glass bowl works great here, especially for aesthetic appeal so you can really see those layers. However, I’ve straight up made this in a metal mixing bowl before! Just have fun with it and get creative.

  5. Now, we layer. For the first layer, use half of your cornbread. Place in dish and press it down gently. For the second layer, use half of your peaches. For the third layer, use half of your whipped cream.

  6. Repeat those three layers again with the rest of your ingredients until they’re gone. Take care to make the top layer of cream as adorable as humanly possible. For example, I always adorn the top with some form of peach. Here, I used a lovely half peach, but I pretty much do this differently every time. There is no wrong way to adorn.

  7. The layers organically create a gorgeous landscape on the sides of the bowl, and obsessing over them is common.

  8. Refrigerate your trifle for at least a few hours before serving. She is best served as chilled as possible.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Dan Pelosi’s recipe for rainbow bread!

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