Upgrade Mediocre Cornbread With Your Favorite Fruit

Cornbread may be a favorite accompaniment for chili and a top choice to use for Thanksgiving stuffing, but, in its unaltered state, it can be a little dry and just, well, plain. This is probably why folks like to slather it in butter or dunk it in cold milk before eating it. But, for a delicious snacking bread, consider doctoring up your recipe with your favorite kind of fruit, which will give your cornbread some sweetness and tartness, not to mention a little extra moisture that most cornbread recipes could use.

If you want to add small fruits like blueberries or raspberries, you can toss them in whole. If your preferred fruit is larger like apples, apricots, or peaches, cut them into chunks first. Since the fruit is heavier than cornbread batter, it will naturally sink to the bottom of the pan. Some people like it this way but if you want the fruit to be more evenly distributed throughout the bread, toss the pieces in a little flour first before you add to the batter. 

Adding fruit to your cornbread will give you something that is much less sweet than cake but much more interesting than a square of the plain stuff. But, to sweeten up the cornbread itself, you can add a touch of honey or maple syrup to the mix, too. 

How to choose the best fruit for your cornbread

For the most part with this hack, you should be able to prepare your cornbread recipe as you usually do, stirring the fruit into the batter just before you place your pan or skillet in the oven to bake. If you are using a boxed cornbread mix, you can also add some sour cream for a delicious tang and a bit of extra moisture. 

If you love oranges, lemons, or any other citrus fruit, only use the outer zest; it will add a huge amount of flavor without the sour juice or bitter white part of the peel. For firmer fruits like apples or pears, it's a good idea to soften them up first by sauteing them in a little butter or coconut oil and letting them cool before adding to your batter. Instead of adding slices or chunks of banana, try mashing them instead and adding to the cornbread batter. Some coconut flavor via sweetened shredded coconut would be an unexpected and yummy addition as well.

Dried fruit is also a smart addition as it will add sweetness and some great chewy bits. Consider dried cranberries, golden raisins, and chopped dried apricots. Another idea is to add fruit in the form of relishes and jams. Once your cornbread batter is in the skillet or pan, drop some dollops of your favorite jam on top and swirl through the batter with a sharp knife or skewer.

Add herbs and spices to further liven up the recipe

Once you get a taste for fruit-studded cornbread, you may never want to eat it any other way. And, if you like the cherries, blueberries, and orange zest you're using, you'll probably love jazzing up your recipe even further with the addition of other flavors. Try adding cinnamon and orange zest to your apple cornbread for a flavor that is pure holiday. Pears with ginger and some vanilla beans would also be delicious. Some other ideas are summer strawberries and basil, sweet cherries with lime zest, shredded coconut with lime zest and mint, blueberry with lemon zest, apple with rosemary or sage, and blueberry and peach.

Fruity cornbread may not be the best addition to your weeknight bowl of chili, but if you want to treat it as a dessert (which is a great idea), enjoy it as it is or sweeten it up by drizzling caramel on top of appropriate flavors (like apple cinnamon), or try crowning a slice with a scoop of ice cream. A generous dollop of bourbon whipped cream on top of a square of blueberry peach cornbread could become a go-to dessert.