EARL’S Honey Cornbread
Beekeeping is what Earl Flewellen would be doing every day, had he not spawned so many other endeavors in Port Costa. Depending on who’s talking, the Louisiana native is either devil or saint in these parts for introducing the outside world to this badly neglected historic California town. Whatever your position, Earl suggests a uniquely Southern remedy to all conflicts: Foes can be made friends and familial fueds laid to rest over some sweet-ass cornbread.
½ cup sugar
1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
2 California bay laurel leaves (Dried are best. If freshly picked, use only one, since flavor will be quite strong.)
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Combine sugar, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
In an 8- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, brown the butter along with the bay leaves, being careful not to overheat. When the foam has subsided and the butter is lightly browned, transfer ½ cup of the butter into a Pyrex glass measuring cup, leaving the rest in the skillet. Pour the ½ cup of butter from the measuring cup into the bowl of mixed dry ingredients.
Beat the egg, add the cup of milk, and stir to combine. Then stir the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir swiftly with as few strokes as possible until batter is combined. (Some lumps are OK.) Toss in walnuts and cranberries and give it a few more strokes to disperse.
Heat the skillet with the remaining butter over medium heat. Leaving skillet on the heat, pour batter directly into the hot butter. If butter pools around edges, pull it in from the walls of the skillet toward the center over the surface of the batter. Allow batter to fry on stovetop for about 20 seconds. Remove from the stovetop and place the skillet into the preheated oven. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
When cornbread is lightly browned and springs back from a light touch, remove from oven and slice cornbread up in the skillet. Alternatively, allow it to cool just enough to safely handle and turn onto a cake stand or platter. Drizzle with honey-butter caramel sauce.
Honey-Butter Caramel Sauce
This sauce is just as good on cake as it is on cornbread.
1 cup wildflower honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, cut into small pieces
Heat honey with salt in a small saucepan over low flame. (Don’t boil. It needs only to be hot enough to melt the butter.) Add butter, stirring it in until it melts and mixture is completely emulsified. Immediately remove from heat and pour over warm cornbread.