When my daughter Maddie was in preschool, we invited a classmate over one afternoon for a playdate. As they busied themselves with wooden blocks in the living room (at least, I thought they were engrossed with the blocks!), I decided to get the ingredients ready for us all to make cornbread. But in the five minutes it took for me to lay out the eggs, flour, and milk, Maddie’s friend had located the bottle of liquid hand soap in the downstairs bathroom and added a generous amount to our fishbowl. Within minutes, the water was bubbly and some of the bowl’s inhabitants were looking pretty sad. In the end, the only survivors were a couple of large, very hardy goldfish.
Both Maddie and her friend were sad about the fate of the fish and didn’t understand what had happened, so baking cornbread turned out to be a great distraction. That day, I learned a lesson about the importance of closely monitoring playdates, and my daughter and her friend learned how easy it is to make delicious cornbread.
Cornbread truly is one of the easiest baking projects ever, and it goes with just about every meal. We make it to serve with chili, roast chicken, and tomato soup. It’s a natural for breakfast if you stir in some blueberries, and if you spoon the batter into muffin tins that you’ve sprayed with cooking spray, you’ll get a delicious batch of muffins. Just don’t take your eyes off your budding chefs for even a minute while prepping the ingredients!
Quick and Easy Cornbread
What You’ll Need
- Cooking spray for the baking pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
What to Do
- Preheat oven to 400℉ while your assistant coats an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Help him measure the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and let him toss the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Show him how to stir the ingredients with a large spoon until all are well mixed. Demonstrate how to form a well in the batter’s center.Teachable Moment: What Your Kids Don’t Know About Corn
- Corn comes in a variety of colors, including black, blue-gray, purple, green, red, white, and of course, yellow.
- An ear of corn has roughly 800 kernels in 16 rows.
- Corn and corn byproducts are found in lots of nonfood items, including fireworks, rust preventatives, glue, paint, dyes, laundry detergent, and soap.—Science Kids
- Let your helper crack an egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. She can pour the beaten egg into the middle of the well, and then add the milk and vegetable oil. Have your “junior chef” stir the batter until the ingredients are mixed. (It’s OK if some little bits of flour are still visible. You don’t want to overbeat the batter.)
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, or encourage your assistant do this—with your guidance. She can smooth out the top using a small plastic knife.Teachable Moment: Three Facts About Bread
- Long ago, bakers were fined if loaves of bread were underweight, so they added an extra loaf to every dozen—hence the term baker’s dozen.
- Bread was so important to ancient Egyptians that it was used as a type of currency. They revered it so much they would often place it in tombs of the dead.
- Around the world, bread is eaten by people of every race, culture, and religion, and is a universal sign of peace.—Why Eat Bread
- Place the baking pan into the preheated oven. Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and when the top of the cornbread is golden brown. Let cool in the pan for about an hour. Cut and serve.