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Cheddar cornbread is a cake-like, cornmeal-based quick bread to which cheddar cheese has been added for flavor and richness. It is pale yellow to bright yellow in color with visible flecks of baked cheddar on its surface, and its base taste is usually sweet, while the cheese it contains adds a note of savory saltiness. Cheddar cornbread is typically prepared by baking a mixture of cornmeal, cheddar, salt, baking powder, eggs, and other ingredients which can vary based on the cook’s preferences as well as regional traditions. Some cooks alter the flavor of cheddar cornbread through the addition of ingredients like vegetables or smoked meats. Many find this bread makes a good accompaniment to soups and stews.
Like all cornbread, cheddar cornbread typically has a taste and texture that is like a hybrid of bread and cake. One of its basic ingredients, cornmeal, as well as the sugar called for by many recipes give it a sweet flavor, while cheddar and in some cases buttermilk provide a tangy, savory note of contrast. Cheddar cornbread that contains more flour than cornmeal tends to be springy and fluffy, while loaves that are largely cornmeal-based are normally dense and crumbly. The cornmeal contained in the bread gives it a pale to bright yellow hue, and its surface is usually studded with brown flecks of baked cheddar.
While cheddar cornbread recipes can vary based on regional traditions as well as the preferences of the cook, most contain cornmeal, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, baking powder, salt, eggs, and milk or buttermilk. In the northern regions of the US, cornbread commonly contains flour and sugar, while in the South, it is often prepared without these ingredients. To prepare the bread, the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients are mixed separately. These two sets of ingredients are then combined and poured or spread into a cast-iron skillet or other baking pan. Reserved cheddar cheese is sprinkled over the top of the mixture, and it is then baked in the oven.
For some cooks, a basic cheddar cornbread recipe serves as a base for experimentation. A wide variety of additional ingredients can be mixed into this basic batter to add a further dimension of flavor to the finished bread. Common add-ins include bacon, ham, jalapeño peppers, and broccoli.
Cut into squares, cheddar cornbread is a popular accompaniment to spicy soups and stews, such as chili or tortilla soup. It can also be cut into small cubes, dried in the oven, and used to make stuffing. With its rich medley of flavors, the bread can also be enjoyed on its own as a simple appetizer or snack.