Fresh Fig Cornbread

September  5, 2013

Each Thursday, Emily Vikre (a.k.a fiveandspice) will be sharing a new way to love breakfast -- because breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.

Today: Is it toast for breakfast? Cake for breakfast? Emily shares why cornbread is the perfect morning food.

Fresh Fig Cornbread from Food52

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I’ve always felt like cornbread makes an even better breakfast than it does a dinner side.  Something about the way it takes as well to an egg or a smudge of soft cheese -- as it does to honey or jam -- just says breakfast to me.  

I know passions run high about what makes for legitimate cornbread, and I don’t claim to know what’s right. In fact, call me undiscerning, but I like cornbread in most every variation, if it’s breakfast time. Depending on your recipe, cornbread can be more savory or more sweet. It straddles the border between toast for breakfast and cake for breakfast, which is not at all a bad liminal space to be in. When I take it ever so slightly in the cake for breakfast direction, I also like to fold fruit into my cornbread. It makes me feel more justified when I want to eat two slices.  

This was originally going to be a blueberry-studded cornbread, but then I found fresh figs. Fig season feels so fleeting, especially here where figs don’t grow and good fresh figs rarely make an appearance. I snatched them up and scattered them atop the cornbread to bake into figgy, jammy jewels. I thought they were perfect with the tender, nubbly crumb of the cornbread. Add a dollop of ricotta, and that’s a breakfast.

Fresh Fig Cornbread from Food52

Fresh Fig Cornbread

Makes one 9-inch bread

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, barely softened and cut into chunks, plus more for greasing the pan
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
8 ounces fresh figs, stemmed and halved

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Emily Vikre

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.


Stephanie S. October 4, 2013
I made this last week using a little bacon fat to grease the cast-iron skillet. It turned out visually beautiful but perhaps a tiny bit dry - I wasn't blown away by the cornbread itself. This was a hit with everyone who tried it!
fiveandspice October 10, 2013
Hmm, mine wasn't dry at all. But, it happens! I'm glad it went over well on the whole.
Embrosia September 25, 2013
Thank you,Emily, I must make this. But for me I think 1/3 cup sugar will be plenty.
fiveandspice October 10, 2013
Definitely adjust to your taste!
mariangela C. September 25, 2013
looks delicious! I
fiveandspice October 10, 2013
sarabclever September 25, 2013
I'm torn between eating the figs in my fridge fresh, or making this. Love breakfast food like this; looks amazing. I assume I can use polenta here?
fiveandspice October 10, 2013
Yes, polenta will work.
Rosanna September 17, 2013
Hola! I want to try this recipe but dont know what cornmeal is in spanish? Is it like corn flour? Thank you for your comments
fiveandspice September 23, 2013
Hmm, I don't really kno what it would be called. It's more coarsely ground than corn flour.
Rosanna September 23, 2013
Thank you!
gregoryiain September 25, 2013
Elaine September 7, 2013
Making this today with figs ready fir picking from my tree. Thanks for this innovative recipe!
fiveandspice September 7, 2013
Lucky you to have a fig tree, yum. I hope you enjoy it!
Fairmount_market September 5, 2013
This looks delicious. I think I'll a variant with small Italian plums that are dropping from trees by the bushel here.
fiveandspice September 7, 2013
Ooh, yes, I bet plums would be wonderful.
Angela B. September 5, 2013
Wow! This picture is beautiful! I love the idea of adding figs to cornbread! Really great recipe...looking forward to trying it out this weekend!
fiveandspice September 7, 2013
Thank you! Hope you like it as much as we did.
amysarah September 5, 2013
This looks wonderful. Makes me wonder about a variation - figs wrapped in bacon are delicious (an Eric Ripert thing,) and cornbread made with bacon fat (or flecks) is maybe those flavors could get together in your recipe. Gilding the lily too much?
fiveandspice September 7, 2013
Definitely not overgilding! That's an amazing idea! I may have to try it myself!
Hannah N. September 5, 2013
Thanks for fueling my fig obsession! Lovely photos.
fiveandspice September 7, 2013
I'm here for you! ;)
Kenzi W. September 5, 2013
Totally gorgeous, and on the to-do list for this weekend. Thanks for the recipe!
fiveandspice September 5, 2013
Thanks Kenzi!
aargersi September 5, 2013
Cornbread is good any time of day! I will chuck figs into mine soon!!! My neighbor is nuts for my avocado cornbread (in case you want a more savory solution for lunch :-)
Marian B. September 5, 2013
Whoah! Do you purée the avocado or slice it? Also, Emily, this looks amazing.
aargersi September 5, 2013
Chunks - and corn too - I was worried it would turn a weird color the first time I made it but it's fine! Seriously - I make the neighbor this instead of cake for her BDay:
fiveandspice September 5, 2013
Yum, yes please I would like that for my lunch! :)