Most days, the first thing that the mixer guys I work with have to accomplish is to bake a rack of cornbread.  We sell our cornbread in individual pans and typically, by the end of the day we are sold out.

What may shock some of you, is that despite working in a bakery and handling hundreds of pounds of sugar everyday, the guys I work with aren’t in love with desserts; you won’t see them sneaking a taste of one of the pastries and if they are sampling a new dessert, they will take the most microscopic bite you have ever seen.

You don’t have to ask them twice to dig into the cornbread though.  After the cornbread comes out of the oven (oh…it makes the kitchen smell like home…), they will reserve themselves a pan.  Most of the time they will just dig right into the hot bread, steam billowing from their mouths, enjoying a moment’s break in their busy days.  Other times, they will scramble an egg on the stove and then have a little feast during their break.  In their words, “You have to have your cornbread and leche.”

If I am not too busy, sometimes I will join them in their cornbread ritual.  One coworker will grab me a cup of coffee and in that hasty moment, nothing tastes better than hot coffee and hot cornbread.

My sweet tooth is still intact and I wanted to add my twist to the cornbread tradition on my Saturday off.

Growing up, every time my mom made cornbread, she would eat her’s topped with maple syrup.  Because of my raving sweet tooth, I quickly followed suit and now every time I smell cornbread baking in the oven, I can’t help but hope there is some maple syrup near by.

For this version of cornbread, I added maple syrup to the batter along with lemon zest and frozen blueberries making a perfect breakfast, snack, or pick-me-up with some leche (or coffee).

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Cornbread

Makes one 8-by-8-inch pan or fills an 8-inch cast-iron skillet

Inspired by two favorite cornbread recipes in The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Note:  I have written this recipe for using a cast-iron skillet which makes a wonderful crust on the edges and bottom of this bread, but if you do not have one (…now!), you can use a 8-by-8-inch baking dish.  This is another great use for buttermilk!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon lemon juice

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup frozen blueberries, not thawed (tossed with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400°F and add cast-iron skillet to oven to heat as well.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and lemon zest together in a medium bowl until combined.  Process the buttermilk, thawed corn, and maple syrup in a food processor until well combined.  Add the eggs and lemon juice and continue to process until well combined (it’s okay if come lumps remain).

Fold the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula.  Fold in the melted butter until just incorporated and then gently fold in flour coated blueberries until just combined.

Remove hot skillet from oven (be cautious).  Brush bottom and sides with ALL the vegetable oil and then scrape batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Let cool for five minutes, then gently flip out onto a wire rack.  Serve warm topped with additional maple syrup!