I’ve been craving dessert for a while now, so when I saw this recipe for Raspberry Polenta Cake over at Love and Lemons, I knew that was the one I wanted. I don’t make dessert often, and when I do, I tend to make things that are not too sweet. Things that could easily double as a breakfast. This cornmeal based cake is just that. So, using the Raspberry Polenta Cake as an inspiration, I made my own version—a Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet. Instead of following the Love and Lemons recipe, I used my basic cornbread recipe (the same one used in my Chili Cornbread Skillet) and increased the sugar and oil just a skosh to make it more like a coffee cake. And I must say, the result is absolutely delicious with coffee!!
This recipe is also a great example of my Budget Byting Principle #2, using expensive ingredients sparingly and pairing them with inexpensive ingredients to keep the overall cost low. Blueberries and lemons are very expensive, but since I didn’t go overboard with either and the rest of the ingredients are super inexpensive pantry staples, this entire cake was still less than 50 cents per serving! That’s how we do it!
Lemon Blueberry Cornbread Skillet
- 1 cup cornmeal $0.24
- 1 cup all-purpose flour $0.14
- ⅓ cup sugar $0.05
- 4 tsp baking powder $0.12
- ½ tsp salt $0.03
- Zest from one lemon (about 1 Tbsp) $0.75
- 1 cup milk $0.62
- 1 large egg $0.17
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil $0.28
- ½ cup frozen blueberries $0.44
- 1 Tbsp butter $0.09
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and the zest from one lemon (about 1 Tbsp). Using your hands, massage the lemon zest into the dry mixture a bit to help release the flavorful oils.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, and egg. Pour the whisked wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir just until the dry mixture is completely moistened. A few lumps are okay.
- Use one tablespoon of butter to grease the inside of a cast iron skillet, a 9-inch pie dish, or an 8x8 casserole dish. Pour the cornbread batter into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the frozen blueberries over top of the batter and then use your finger to push them down into the batter.
- Bake the cornbread for 20-25 minutes, or until the top and sides are light golden brown. Slice into 8 pieces and serve.
Step by Step Photos
First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. This cornbread comes together so quickly that you’ll likely be finished preparing it before the oven is fully heated, so don’t forget! In a large bowl combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and the zest from one lemon (about 1 Tbsp). Stir until they are all well combined and use your hands to massage the zest into the dry ingredients a bit, which will release the oils and help flavor the batter.
To remove the zest from the lemon, I just used a fine holed cheese grater. Make sure to only get the thin yellow top layer and as little of the white pith as possible. The white part can be a bit bitter. Using just the zest like this will give the cornbread a light lemony aroma without any of the sourness that the juice gives. I suspect that using some lemon extract would accomplish the same thing (and maybe be less expensive), but I just adore fresh lemon zest.
In a separate bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together 1 cup of milk, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and one large egg. And yes, you can use non-dairy milk, like soy milk. That’s actually all I had on hand today, so my cornbread was made with plain soy milk. :)
Now pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients…
And stir just until everything is moistened. It’s okay if there are some lumps. With quick breads like this, you don’t want to over stir the batter because that will develop the gluten matrix and give it a rubbery texture. You want light and crumbly cornbread, not dense and rubbery.
Grease a cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of butter. This gives it more of a coffee cake like finish. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet (mine is 10 inches), you can use a 9-inch pie pan or an 8×8 casserole dish.
Now, pour the prepared batter into the skillet and sprinkle 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries over top. I did not thaw the blueberries. They’re so small that they will thaw in an instant when it goes into the oven. Push the blueberries down into the batter with your finger. (If you want it even MORE coffee cake like, you can add a few pieces of butter to the top of the cake as well.)
Bake the cornbread in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top and sides are lightly golden brown. Let it cool slightly, then slice into 8 pieces.
Add a little drizzle of maple syrup (if desired) and eat with a nice hot cup of coffee. Sunday morning perfection!