I have to be honest.
Sometimes I create a recipe because I have some sort of gimmick in mind. This cornbread, for example, was designed so that I could melt a layer of cheddar on the surface with the heat from a smoldering log.
Doesn’t that sound cool!?
Well, the good news is that Allison got a great picture of the attempt. The not-so-great news is that it didn’t really melt the cheese, but, I had already stuffed the inside with cheddar so at least there was no lack of cheesiness. (I’ve updated the recipe so you can have a melted cheesy top layer without the pyrotechnics.)
More importantly, this gluten-free cornbread is a must have at your Thanksgiving table, or really, any winter feast. Here’s why:
Cornbread is most commonly baked in a cast iron skillet in the home oven. However, if you’re willing to fire up your grill and create a crock pot oven, you’ll have an ultra-moist, smoky cornbread that screams Thanksgiving! One bite of fire-baked bread awakens our most primal taste buds, reminding us why we have gathered to feast in the first place: to give thanks to the Earth, our Mother, for nourishing us with her bounty and life. The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address says it best. And what better way to give thanks than to cook outdoors under the open sky?
Special thanks to Barebones Living for providing the cast iron cookware for this recipe. And, they’re generously offering YOU 30% off all products using discount code FRISCHKITCHEN!
I’ve divided this recipe into two sections – prepare ahead and outdoors – so that it’s easy to make the cornbread when you’re in the midst of all the other crazy Thanksgiving prep. I’ve also included a note for baking this in the home oven if that’s what you prefer or have available to you. You can prep everything up to 24 hours ahead, and when it’s time, simply dump and stir the ingredients in one bowl before transferring the batter to your crock pot. It’s especially fun and easy to make with little assistants, like my two-year old daughter Ayla, who loved stirring the batter while squealing, “I cooking! I cooking!”
This gluten-free variation is light yet moist. Play with variations in the batter, such as adding fresh herbs or bacon bits. Serve it straight from the crock pot, which makes for a beautiful, rustic serving dish. Just be sure to let it cool before serving or warn company that it’s hot. And don’t forget to pair your final masterpiece with Cranberry-Orange & Maple Jam served in a wide mouth ball jar.
- 2 cups medium ground cornmeal
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar or coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup whole organic corn kernels (or half 15.25-ounce can, drained), optional
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Add almond flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt to a large ziplock bag. Shake to incorporate and smooth out chunks of almond flour. Store in the pantry for up to 5 days.
- In a large mason jar, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and optional corn kernels. Shake until yolks are broken and incorporated, and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
- Fire up the grill or campfire to medium-high heat and position the grill grate 6 inches above the coals.
- Add the cornmeal mixture to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk mixture. Use a spatula to gently incorporate the dry and wet ingredients together until a batter forms. Fold in 2 cups of the shredded cheese and optional corn kernels.
- Place a 12-inch crock pot on the grill directly over the coals. Add the butter and melt, tilting to coat the bottom and sides of the pot. Once the butter begins to foam (before it browns!), pour in the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese over top.
- Cover the crock pot and use tongs to transfer an even layer of coals onto the lid.
- Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, until the smell of cornbread fills the air. Remove the coals with the tongs and blow off the ash residue (away from people) so it doesn’t fall onto the cornbread when you lift the lid. Use a lid lifter, welding gloves, or thick towel to lift the lid. You can check for doneness visually - the edges and top will be browned - or if a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If the cornbread needs more time, return the lid and coals, and continue baking for 5 minutes more.
- Serve warm, directly from the crock pot, alongside Cranberry-Orange & Maple Jam. (Be sure to warn your fellow campers that the pot is hot!). Store leftovers in an airtight container at ambient temperature for up to 5 days.
Bake cornbread at home in a 425°F oven, uncovered, for 25 minutes until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Add the remaining ½ cup cheddar on top and return to the oven. Broil on high for 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted.