Sesame Brown-Butter Cornbread

By • July 25, 2016 3 Comments

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Author Notes: The decision to put sugar in your cornbread, especially in the South, isn’t really just about whether you like a little sweet in your salty. Ignorant Yankee that I am, I didn’t realize this. What I did notice was that, based on flavor alone, I didn’t like putting sugar in my batter. And yet I like sweet baked goods, a lot—more, probably, than their savory kin. So I thought it could be an interesting little experiment to make an outright sweet cornbread. While thinking about other Southern ingredients, benne (or sesame) seeds came to mind, and from there, I zigged to coconut and zagged to brown butter. The ice cream became a way to add a less saccharine form of sugar that would give you a moister, more delicate crumb, the natural sweetness of cream’s butterfat and a hint of vanilla. I honestly wasn’t sure how it would taste, but I instinctively knew I’d like it.

And I liked it quite a bit! Just to cut a wedge and call it breakfast, or have it with some coffee or tea is enough for me, although, some strawberry or blueberry jam, or maybe some coconut butter smeared on top when the cornbread comes out of the oven might be nice.

Reprinted with permission from Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet.


Serves 8

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
  • 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame or benne seeds
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream, melted
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  1. Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, gradually increasing the heat from low to medium. Once the pan is hot, add the butter, tilting the pan to coat. As it melts, it will sizzle and foam. Continue to cook the butter until the foam dissolves and the liquid turns the color of hazelnuts, a rich brown. (Make sure it doesn’t burn.) If it’s spattering too much, reduce the heat a bit. Pour the brown butter into a small heatproof bowl and set aside to cool. Wipe out the skillet.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F with the skillet in it. In a large bowl using a whisk, stir together the cornmeal, coconut flour, sesame seeds, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted ice cream, and egg to combine. Continue to whisk as you add the brown butter, drizzling it in to incorporate it gradually.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking to thoroughly incorporate. The batter will seem on the dry side. Don’t worry.
  5. Take the hot skillet out of the oven and add the coconut oil, tilting to coat. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to brown and a cake tester or fork inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. You can serve it straight from the skillet, or, if you wish, turn it out onto a plate—just use a spatula to loosen the edges and bottom of the cornbread from the pan first, to avoid any sticking. Cut it into 8 wedges. Enjoy it for breakfast, or an afternoon snack.

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