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A Corn Bread Star

Posted By foodgal On July 15, 2009 @ 4:15 am In Chefs,General,Recipes (Sweet),Restaurants | 25 Comments

When you think of Spago, you think of glitz and glamour.

Of Hollywood stars, and post-Oscar galas.

Of smoked salmon-caviar pizza and decadent tasting menus.

But down-home corn bread?

Not so much.

Well, you should, when it’s this feathery light, tender, and compellingly good.

“Honey-Glazed Spago Corn Bread” is from “Desserts By the Yard” (Houghton Mifflin) by Sherry Yard, executive pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide.

OK, corn bread is not technically a dessert. But can you blame Yard for including it in her book when it’s this much of a sure hit? Consider this the summer blockbuster of corn breads. It’s a star turn that you won’t be able to take your eyes — or teeth — off of.

Cornmeal, all-purpose flour, and cake flour combine with eggs, milk, buttermilk, sugar and butter to create a texture that’s moist, airy, yet pleasantly chewy.

After removing the baked corn bread from the oven, you poke holes all over it like you would with an old-fashioned lemon tea cake. Then, brush on a glaze of water, honey, and more butter. The glaze seeps into the cornbread, making it even more moist and rich. It also gives the corn bread a subtle gloss, as well as a lovely whisper of sweetness.

Yard writes in her book that the corn bread is a favorite of the San Antonio Spurs. Apparently, whenever the team is in town to play the Lakers, members head to Spago Beverly Hills for sustenance. Spago’s Executive Chef Lee Hefter whips up a Southern feast of smothered pork chops, fried chicken, collard greens, mac & cheese, ribs, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, green beans, and brisket. The Spurs always save room for Yard’s corn bread. And she always makes enough for them to tote some home, too.

If only there was an Academy Award for “best corn bread.” Hands down, this would be the one.

Honey-Glazed Spago Corn Bread

(makes one 9-by-13-inch pan)

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cake flour

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 large eggs, at room temperature

3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk

1/2 cup buttermilk

For glaze:

3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/4 cup honey

1/3 cup water

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray foil with pan spray.

Sift together cornmeal, all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt 2 times. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs. Melt butter and immediately whisk into eggs in a slow stream. Whisk in oil, milk, and buttermilk. Whisk in dry ingredients just until combined.

Scrape batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pan from front to back and continue to bake for 10 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the glaze: While corn bread is baking, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add honey and water, and whisk until blended.

When corn bread is done, remove from oven and poke holes all over the bread, about 1/2 inch apart, with a toothpick. Brush with the glaze and allow to cool.

From “Desserts By the Yard”

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