Confession #140: Honey Butter is my Guilty Pleasure… Honey and Beer Cornbread
Around here, honey butter gets made about once or twice a year. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because I don’t like it. It’s because it’s WAY too dang good to have around more often. If I could, I would gladly smother all my bread in honey butter. It would basically be the bread-and-butter version of heaven.
When I do make honey butter, it’s because it’s time for cornbread. Here’s my rule: you can’t have cornbread without honey butter. This is really the unspoken rule of cornbread, isn’t it? If it’s not, it should be. Cornbread is good, but cornbread with honey butter oozing into every last crumb is a bajillion times better.
I’ve always been a huge lover of cornbread, but in truth, it took me about a year to actually MAKE a cornbread that I loved. I wanted something sweet and moist, with crisp edges and a tender crumb, and the first many versions I tried were dry, or boring, or just not what I was craving. Then I had an epiphany of sorts. What I wanted was basically the cornbread version of beer bread, but just a little less hearty and chewy. Do you see where I’m going with this? Fusing the two recipes together just makes sense!
This bread bakes up gorgeously with a crispy, golden brown crust made sweet and buttery with a honey butter glaze. The crumb is super soft and tender, and lightly but perfectly sweet. There’s the signature flavor of beer bread, but with a cornbread twist. It’s good on it’s own (as every bread ought to be), but when you smear it with sweet honey butter and let it melt into the warm bread, the flavor is absolutely intoxicating. The result is warm, sweet, buttery perfection like only cornbread with honey butter can be. I think cornbread is technically a dinner bread, but I’ll happily eat this for breakfast, dinner and anytime in between.
As a side note, you all have had honey butter before, right? Have you made honey butter? Because I served this butter at Thanksgiving and everyone seemed to think I was some sort of magical baker who invented this crazy-good sweet butter. Sadly I can’t claim credit for that, but just know that if you’ve never had honey butter, it WILL change your life. :)
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened (unsalted or salted)
2 tablespoons honey
salt, to taste (if using unsalted butter)
In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter until melted and cool briefly. Add cornmeal and buttermilk and stir until all of the cornmeal is moistened. Let sit for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease a 9"x5" loaf pan with salted butter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the cornmeal mixture. Microwave the honey for 5-10 seconds, until more fluid, and add to the flour mixture. Add beer. Fold everything together just until evenly combined, with no dry pockets of flour or cornmeal remaining. Pour batter into buttered loaf pan and smooth out the top.
Combine honey and butter for glaze in a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave until butter has melted. Stir together until smooth. Spread evenly over batter in pan.
Bake bread at 350ºF for 65-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top is golden. Cool approximately 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Serve bread warm (toasted is best!) with honey butter. Store in an airtight zip-top bag.
In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the butter on medium-high speed until smooth and light, wiping down bowl and beater as needed. Add honey and salt (if using) and whip in until smooth. Serve while soft.