1. Prep Your Mix-Ins
Choose up to 3 of the following ingredients (1/2 cup each).
*Carrots, grated, then sprinkled with salt, set aside for 15 minutes and squeezed dry
*Zucchini, grated, sprinkled with salt, set aside for 15 minutes and squeezed dry
*Roasted or pickled peppers, drained and chopped
*Broccoli florets, chopped and blanched
*Onion, chopped and sautéed
*Corn kernels, cooked or raw
*Kale, chopped and sautéed
*Bell pepper, chopped
*Dried fruit, chopped if large
*Canned hominy, drained
*Bacon or pancetta, cooked and crumbled
*Sausage, cooked and crumbled
*Unsalted nuts, chopped
2. Choose a Cheese
Grate or crumble 1/2 cup cheese (optional).
3. Make the Batter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch-square baking dish or a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with cooking spray. Whisk 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal, 1/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons melted butter; whisk into the dry ingredients until combined. Fold in the prepared mix-ins and cheese.
4. Add Seasonings
Stir in 1 of the following (optional).
*1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, parsley, chives, cilantro or a combination
*1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, sage or rosemary
*1 minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
*1 minced jalapeño pepper
5. Bake the Bread
Pour the batter into the prepared dish or skillet. Bake until the cornbread springs back when pressed in the center, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes in the dish, then loosen the edges and slice.
Photograph by Charles Masters