Vera Obias' Cheddar & Black Pepper Cornbread

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: How to make even better cornbread? Treat it more like a biscuit (or scone, or pie crust). The same cold pockets of butter that make a scone crunch outside and billow through the middle do good things for cornbread too. You can bake them into miniature loaves or free-form like scones, with a shorter baking time. Adapted from Vera Obias and Du Jour Bakery in Park Slope, Brooklyn.Genius Recipes

Makes: one 9x9-inch pan


  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (166g) sugar
  • 1 cup (144g) cornmeal, preferably coarse
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (10g) salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) grated aged white cheddar
  • 8 ounces (240g) butter, cold and cubed
  • 3/4 to 1 cups buttermilk
  • Heavy cream, cracked black pepper and Maldon (or other flaky) salt for finishing
In This Recipe


  1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until just combined, with pea-sized chunks. Add buttermilk and pulse until dough forms. Let chill for an hour.
  2. Heat the oven to 350° F.
  3. Press dough evenly into a 9x9-inch baking pan. Brush with cream and sprinkle with Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper. Bake until the top is golden brown and the sides start to pull away from the pan, about 25 minutes.

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Bread|Cornbread|Cheddar|Cheese|Grains|Milk/Cream|Pepper|Buttermilk|Grill/Barbecue|Make Ahead|Serves a Crowd|Mother's Day

Reviews (51) Questions (4)

51 Reviews

Peggy July 5, 2017
This is so dense and heavy, 25 minutes at 350 left it raw and uncooked in the middle. I left it in for another 20 and then the too burnt but the middle was cooked enough. It had good flavor but was heavy and defense as a brick. Way too sweet, more like a dessert. Won't be making this again. I'll stick to my old tried and true recipe, which comes out perfect every time.
Peggy July 5, 2017
The top burnt
[email protected] March 2, 2017
My husband is in love with this. If you don't have 9x9 make in a cast iron skillet. Delish. Only corn bread I'll make.
Brittany A. January 8, 2017
I am excited to make this. Would it work to simply brush with buttermilk to finish instead of heavy cream?
Courtney C. January 8, 2017
I've done that before with success. Enjoy!
emcsull December 8, 2016
can I use polenta instead of cornmeal ? Might have a hard time getting coarse cornmeal
BethanyO November 29, 2016
Had to bake this much longer... at least another 15 minutes and it still fell in the center even though it was starting to brown on top. You should edit the instructions for a proper baking time!
Rose K. November 20, 2016
This recipe helped me win first prize in this year’s cornbread/chili cook-off. In the past two years, I have won with the NYTs Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread (Melissa Clark). Both recipes help produce delicious cornbread.<br /><br />I doubled the Cheddar & Black Pepper Cornbread recipe, and baked most of the batter (more like a dough) in two 8 x 8 glass pans. Because the recipe called for a 9 x 9 pan, I reserved some of the batter and baked it on a cookie sheet in a log formation. <br /><br />I was nervous that the cornbread would be salty or too sweet, it was neither. I used Bob’s Red Mill coarse cornmeal. The cornbread was a little crunchy at times, and could have benefited from chilling longer than 1 hr. I used the maximum amount of buttermilk called for in the recipe. <br /><br />The house smelled amazing while it was baking (strong black pepper aroma). I would use even more black pepper next time because some of the oils volatilized. The crust was amazing. It took much longer than 25 minutes to bake.<br />
Tarra January 1, 2016
I've made this twice with a standard 8x8 pyrex dish. It's taken a lot longer than 25 min - more like 45 min.
Courtney C. December 15, 2015
This was the best cornbread I have ever eaten - it was perfect - tender, buttery, and the pepper and salt on top was an amazing addition. The only modification that we made was to halve the amount of sugar. Seriously - make this now.
Jenny R. November 3, 2018
Thank you for the suggestion. I also halved the sugar, and it was perfect.
waltunkel November 15, 2015
Are there any special instructions if I use a 12 inch cast iron pan?
RipleyRocket July 1, 2015
In the ingredient list, is this for sweet or salted butter? Thanks!
Stephen D. July 4, 2015
It's likely to be sweet, I think, based on the amount of salt specifically stated in the recipe.
Chris S. March 15, 2015
When food processing the batter (it reads more like a batter than a dough) do you use the steel 'S' blade or ceramic dough blade for best results?
Kristen M. March 16, 2015
I've always used the standard steel S blade -- and it really does come out more like a biscuit or scone dough than a batter. You'll see!
[email protected] February 7, 2015
Husband asked for a second batch to be made later in the week. Thought the dough looked dry going into the pan, but the bread came out wonderfully moist as the butter melted in It did take a bit longer to cook in my oven, but came out terrific.
Nancy December 8, 2014
I tried it and it worked just fine.
Nancy December 5, 2014
Can you chill the dough overnight?
Kristen M. December 8, 2014
Nancy, I haven't tried this but I think the combination of leaveners plus the extra chilling time should make that okay. (If it was just baking soda, it might react immediately with the buttermilk and have no oomph left by day 2.)
Melinda E. November 27, 2014
Thanks for the input, Kristen. That's what my husband found by doing some research online. Since it seemed to take longer to cook than the recipe called for, I started checking it with a tester in the middle. I took it out when it seemed to be done based on that. It wasn't exactly "clean" like you would expect with a cake, but, it after a few more minutes of baking and testing, it seemed satisfactory IMO even though I hadn't made this before. But, I think I'll take your suggestion and cut it up now while I wait for my Brussel sprouts to finish. Thanks again.
Melinda E. November 27, 2014
I made this last night to take to friends' for thanksgiving. It came out of the oven gloriously puffy. This morning, however, it deflated in a perfect square in the center; still puffy around the edges. I doubt this will affect the taste , but does impact the presentation. Any thoughts on why this happened?
Kristen M. November 27, 2014
It sounds like it might not have baked as thoroughly in the middle. For presentation, what if you cut it into squares now, rewarm them in foil at your friend's house, and serve them in a basket with a nice tea towel? That would distract from the deflation and give you a chance to check out the middle pieces.
Kelley T. November 23, 2014
Is it still good if made a day ahead?
Kristen M. November 27, 2014
Sorry I missed this -- yes, and you can rewarm in the oven if you want it to freshen it up a little.
Joy B. November 20, 2014
do you think this is doable without a food processor, K? and just cut in the butter scone/biscuit style, or use my kitchenaid?
Kristen M. November 20, 2014
Yes, just treat them like biscuits or scones and you'll be happy!
I don't care what it's called. This was one of the most delicious dishes I've ever made. I prepared the dough the day before and kept it in the fridge overnight. I baked it for an extra 15 minutes--probably because of the overnight chill. And because I got slightly lazy with my grating, I encountered more than one glorious pocket of melted cheese as I sliced for guests. Just heavenly.
Emma June 29, 2014
A little to sweet even with 50g less sugar for my liking.