“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.”
–writer and author Malcolm Gladwell
I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast “Revisionist History” and his many inquisitive books like Outliers, The Tipping Point and Blink that explore the social psychology behind current events and our many misperceptions about them. The quote above pretty much sums up his curious nature and one that I strive to live by. It keeps me constantly in check when I seem to be falling into a thinking or a cooking rut. If you think you know everything, how can you still be learning?
So, after declaring, over and over again, that sugar and cornbread don’t mix, this Apple Cornbread Skillet Cake again changes my mind. Yes, it’s a cake and not to be mistaken for sweet cornbread. I love to make it because it has the velvet heft of pound cake, just enough cornmeal texture, plenty of buttery flavor, eggy richness, and sweet-tart apples on top. It’s much easier to make than a pie and ideal for fall and winter. I resist adding cinnamon because I like to taste the butter more fully but add some if you like. A nice golden crust develops when it’s baked in a skillet, but a cake pan or a springform pan will work fine, too.
Of course, I’m using the South’s favorite way to make cornbread–self-rising cornmeal mix or self-rising cornmeal combined with regular flour. If you can’t find that, use plain cornmeal and add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the recipe.
Here’s my 9 x 13 cornbread sheet cake recipe, too. This one is a variation of the old 1,2,3,4 cake recipe. And again I changed my mind. I’ll keep looking for more ways to disrupt my thinking and report back.
- 1 1/2 sticks butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus a few tablespoons more for sprinkling
- 4 eggs, beaten together in a small bowl.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest from one lemon, optional
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
- 2 medium apples such as Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Empire or Jonagold, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
Heat the oven to 350 F. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cool slightly to lukewarm. Stir in the eggs, vanilla, and zest. Blend well. Stir in the flour and cornmeal. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch cast-iron skillet or baking pan. Arrange the apple slices over the top. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown and the center is firm. It will form a nice crust around the edges when baked in a skillet. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Note: When using plain cornmeal (not cornmeal mix or self-rising cornmeal), add 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to this recipe. You can also vary the fruit. It's great with a handful of blueberries or cranberries scattered over the top. I've done fresh pineapple and cherries with great success, too. Truly this is one of my all-time favorite recipes. The butter flavor is super fantastic.