A big pan of moist and delicious sweet potato cornbread to feed a crowd. And the best part… it is completely do-ahead! Topped with scallions, skillet-charred corn, sage and fresh goat cheese, it just keeps getting tastier bite after bite!
I’m always nervous when I bring food to someone’s house. I know it’s something that I put on myself, but as a chef I feel that everyone’s got high expectations, and that can be a lot to live up to! Of course, my friends are always so gracious, and people are generally thankful that someone’s brought a dish to share, but I still get those butterflies.
So, imagine this… I need to recipe test an idea I have for a Thanksgiving cornbread. I develop the recipe in my head, jot it down and think I’ve got it all right on paper, and am excited to test and make sure it’s all-that.
Of course it better be perfect, we’re talking the biggest cooking day of the year, and I have to make sure it is stellar for you, my people!
Turns out, I have the perfect opportunity to get feedback from a large group of friends on Halloween night. The host is serving crockpot chili! Cornbread is a natural accompaniment and she was happy to have me bring my new creation.
I put my recipe together Last Sunday, baked it up and brought it over. When trying something new I always try to sneak the first bite in case I need to wave a flag, make apologies, and quickly run out to the supermarket! (See… those nerves!)
I was fairly pleased with how it turned out, but there was something. I asked around. What did people like? What would they change? Did it need a sprinkle of flaked salt on top? Maybe more cheese. Salty prosciutto or bacon crumbles? I mentally filed their comments and went home to tweak.
The next day was a blur, and I wasn’t able to focus on fixing it quite yet.
Dinner was soup I had frozen in anticipation of a night like this… and the leftover sweet potato cornbread.
I had some trepidation… we had refrigerated the leftover cornbread because of the goat cheese on top, but would the fridge and rewarming dry it out?
I took a bite, not expecting much, but hey, I was happy to have something already done for dinner. Then I took another bite, and another. I said to my hubs, “You know, I think I like it even better today.” He shared the exact same thought. I devoured my piece and went back for more. We couldn’t stop eating it. It was perfect! The sweetness had mellowed, which allowed the spices to come through, it was more moist, and it had just the right texture.
Some things just need to mellow! You’ve got to make this sweet potato cornbread… and you’ve got to make it a day ahead.
Honestly, for Thanksgiving, what could be better? A dish that improves with time, and begs to be made in advance!
Any tips or tricks in making this sweet potato cornbread?
- The cornbread’s flavor and texture will be much improved on the day after it is baked. It is my recommendation to make this a day before serving, keep refrigerated, then rewarm to serve.
- The cornbread is easily halved to serve a smaller group. Bake it in a 9×9-inch square pan.
- The toppings add a lovely texture and flavor, however, leave them off if you prefer. The cornbread will still be wonderful without them.
- See how to brown butter if you aren’t familiar with the process.
- I find canned sweet potato puree next to the canned pumpkin, but if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, you can make your own. Simply oven roast two medium sweet potatoes until completely soft, scoop out the flesh and mash with a large fork to make a scant 2 cups.
Do-Ahead Sweet Potato Cornbread with Goat Cheese, Charred Corn & Scallions
- 2 cups (240 g) fine cornmeal
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons ancho chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 4 large eggs
- 15- ounce can sweet potato puree
- 1 ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels
- ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
- 6 large sage leaves chopped
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
- 2 scallions chopped
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Butter a 12 x 9-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, allowing overhang on two sides (this will act as a “handle” making it easier to remove the cornbread).
- Put the two sticks of butter in a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula and let it cook and bubble until the milk solids begin to turn brown. Pour into a metal or pyrex mixing bowl, scraping the brown bits from the pan, and let it cool down slightly.
- Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ancho powder and allspice in a medium bowl until everything is evenly distributed.
- Melt the 1 tablespoon butter for the topping in a medium skillet until sizzling. Add the corn kernels, sage, and a pinch of salt and cook over high heat, stirring constantly. When the corn starts to take on some color, remove from the heat and set aside.
- Whisk the sweet potato puree and brown sugar into the brown butter. Add the buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs and whisk to combine. Whisk in the flour until incorporated, then pour into your prepared pan, smoothing the top. Distribute the corn, goat cheese, and scallions evenly over the top, then place in your preheated oven.
- Bake the cornbread for 40-50 minutes, until it is firm in the center and has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove to a rack and let cool, then refrigerate overnight. (see note)
- The cornbread will be slightly easier to cut while it is cold, so it’s a good idea to do this before you reheat it to serve. Remove from the pan using the parchment, and use a serrated knife to cut the desired size squares (I serve large squares, cutting 6 across by 3 to make 18 total, but you could cut 4 x 6, making 24 total). Place right back in your baking pan, and pop in a 225 F oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove and serve warm.
Tips & Tricks