Vera Obias' Cheddar & Black Pepper Cornbread

March 27, 2021
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes one 9x9-inch pan
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • trysteroo
  • patty@bryce
  • BethanyO
  • Courtney C
    Courtney C
  • Chris Stone
    Chris Stone
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

58 Reviews

Hogan5 September 1, 2023
Attempted corn bread half a dozen times over the years, always disappointing. This one changed my losing streak! Loved it, halved the sugar based on other reviews.
Laura F. February 25, 2023
Other than halving the sugar I followed the recipe as directed and it came out perfectly, will definitely make this again
molly U. November 20, 2022
This is a favorite in our house. I cut back on the butter and sugar, and do not use the cream on top. My husband likes me to put it in muffin tins and that works great as well. Lots of cracked pepper on top is the perfect finishing touch.
Rollie March 27, 2021
I wish I had read some of the reviews first. It takes much longer to back than suggested as many reviewers had commented. Though I left it for another 10 mins it was still under baked in the middle. I guess I'm making croutons today! I would suggest freeform scones for a shorter backing time. I won't bake this again.
Rachaelkc May 3, 2020
Agree with reviewers that it takes waaaaaay longer to bake and is too sweet. Was almost like a pudding and the sugar obliterated the taste of the cheese. Even my kids said it was too sweet—which almost never happens. If I try this again (although not sure why I would), I will eliminate sugar and might try cooking them more like biscuits or scones, not in the pan. Idea of cooking them in a cast iron skillet also good. The 9x9 pan seems too small. I lost track of how long I baked it. Like, an hour??? Was still too damp.
trysteroo January 25, 2020
I halved the sugar and baked it for 45 minutes in a cast iron skillet (glad I read the reviews beforehand!) I've tried a lot of cornbread recipes and I think this is the best one yet -- the texture and flavor is fantastic. Put lots of pepper on top!
NXL November 5, 2019
I never cared for traditional cornbread, and already have a great recipe with this proportion of flour to cornmeal, cheddar cheese and buttermilk. The scone-like texture drew me in , however, and I was pleased with the flavor and texture. The baking time was way off, though , 55 minutes . How can this be ? Is it actually the temperature that is off ? Also, dirtying a food processor is unnecessary when I can mix up a great batch in a bowl.
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
patty@bryce 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.

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.

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.

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.
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!
patty@bryce 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.