Medjool dates and a touch of maple syrup give this cornbread an earthy subtle sweetness that compliments the piquant fresh chili notes. We like the combination of all-purpose and spelt flours—the latter adds depth and a nutty richness—but you can go all ‘all-purpose’ flour, in a pinch or if you prefer. Cutting chilies into rounds makes for a pretty presentation. For a quicker and less hands-on method, simply seed and coarsely chop the chilies.
- 3 1/2 ounces jalapeño peppers (about 4 large)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal, fine or medium-coarse grind
- 1/2 cup spelt flour
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 4 large eggs
- 10 ounces dates, pitted, chopped (2 cups)
Heat oven to 375ºF with rack in middle.
Cut jalapeños crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Laying slices flat on a cutting board, cut out and discard seeds. Set aside. (Wash hands well after handling chilies, or use gloves if you are sensitive to seed-pod heat; see headnote for alternate cutting options.)
In an 11 to 12-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron), melt butter on stovetop over medium heat. Watching carefully to avoid burning, cook until foam subsides and butter turns a deep brown. Remove pan from heat. Brush inside edges of pan with some of the butter, then pour into a large bowl; reserve skillet (don’t wipe out).
In a second large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, both flours, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Whisk milk, yogurt, and maple syrup into bowl with butter. Mixture should be cool to the touch. Let cool, if not, then whisk in eggs. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; whisk to combine.
Pour batter back into skillet, then sprinkle dates and 3/4 of the jalapeños on top. Bake 15 minutes, then arrange remaining jalapeños on top. Continue baking until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into bread comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool in skillet for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe and photos by Mindy Fox