Tomato Upside-Down Cornbread

August 17, 2016
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Crispy, butter, soft, tangy… This Tomato Upside-Down Cornbread has it all. A dramatic presentation of the humble cornbread, this recipe will elevate any barbecue or cookout to a fine-dining level. It’s also incredibly effortless to make! —The Suburban Soapbox

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: The Suburban Soapbox has been submitting recipes to Food52 since 2012—but this is their first finalist recipe!
WHAT: Upside-down cake meets skillet cornbread.
HOW: Caramelize tomato slices in a skillet, cover with a thick cornbread batter, and bake. Once cool, invert onto a plate for oohs and ahhs.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We love cornbread. We love tomatoes. We love upside-down cake. How did we never think of combining them before? Even with its tender-buttery-velvety-ness and caramelized edges, it's still savory enough to pass for brunch while tomatoes are still in season.
—The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the eggs and buttermilk. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
  4. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, heat the remaining butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter is melted.
  5. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Arrange the tomato slices in the bottom of the skillet and cook for 30 seconds.
  7. Pour the batter into the skillet and spread with a spatula so the bottom is covered. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cover the skillet with a plate and turn the skillet over to remove the cornbread.
  9. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Best if enjoyed the same day.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Millicent
  • Bevi
  • Joy
  • Lauren

13 Reviews

Joy August 8, 2021
So I did not bother to drain the tomatoes, but did cook for longer than suggested on the stovetop.

I am gluten free so used GF cornmeal and Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour - which should sub 1:1 for all purpose flour. But when I made this according to the directions, I had a batter that was thinner than pancake batter. I ended up adding about an extra 1.25-1.5 cups of flour before arriving at anything that resembled what a cornbread batter. I doubled the baking powder and soda, and it turned out perfectly. No soggy top. ...long story short, could the soggy top be the ratios?
Joy August 8, 2021
Apparently I can't grammar today.

Looking at basic cornbread recipes, ratios are not 1:1 flour to liquid, which this one is.
Lauren August 11, 2020
Very easy, good recipe for using some fresh summer tomatoes! I was rushed, so I didn't drain my tomatoes, but I did cook them in the pan a longer than 30 seconds, maybe 1.5-2mins. There was a LOT of liquid when I poured the batter in, but even so, it wasn't soggy on top. Delicious with braised kale and eggs!
Damien F. September 9, 2019
Based on others’ reviews, I decided to salt, drain, and pat dry the tomatoes. I also added some fresh rosemary and was glad I did! It really took it up a notch in flavor!
Judy March 7, 2017
Are these directions the best way of assembling the ingredients? I've made cornbread and other baking powder/soda recipes for decades, and the rule has always been the wet ingredients aren't added to the dry ingredients until the moment before the batter hits the pan! Otherwise, the bread will have less rise. I would use the last 10 seconds the tomatoes are in the skillet to lightly mix the dry & wet ingredients and add to the hot skillet pronto!
Janet February 19, 2017
Is it just me or are ingredient lists that give a total and say "divided" just not helpful. Divided into what? Why not state the portions needed at various stages of the recipe so that users don't have to annotate the recipe or measure in the midst of cooking.
Robin December 8, 2016
I loved this recipe. I did lightly salt the tomatoes, pat dry, and remove a few of the seeds, to reduce the "soggy". I also would have added more sugar depending on whether you like your cornbread a little sweeter. Mine was a bit wet on top but a few minutes under the broiler fixed that, I will make this again.
Millicent September 18, 2016
No problems with sticking or sogginess for me, not sure what made the difference. The top, bottom and sides were all nicely crisp. I used less butter to cook the tomatoes (1 tbl instead of 3) and used several small dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes, which may have been less juicy than what others used. I also subbed sourdough starter for the flour and part of the buttermilk, because I had some that needed to be used.
Cliff June 30, 2019
A different recipe!
alaparc September 14, 2016
Wondering if we need to drain the tomatoes with paper towels and/or salt them and drain them
Bevi September 16, 2016
Seeding the tomatoes and then drying the slices can't hurt. I take those steps, as directed by Deb Perlman, when I make a tomato and corn pie that she posted a while back. She recommends these steps to keep the pie crust from getting soggy.
mcatherinep September 13, 2016
I followed the recipe and it turned out soggy on top for me too. The tomatoes slices were attractive, but quite a bit stuck to the bottom of the cast iron pan.
Jenn H. September 11, 2016
This turned out soggy on the top for me-