Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

IMG_9882I am writing this on Saturday afternoon on a day when we had big plans to conquer pre-baby chore lists, but Sam’s not feeling great and my energy’s a little low so it hasn’t been quite what we’d envisioned. My goals for the morning were to repot a house plant and make some soup and I’ve done neither. I will say that the sweet potato and fennel are still sitting on the counter eagerly awaiting their Big Moment — it just hasn’t come about quite yet. Sam and I were both going to attempt to install the carseat, but it started to look really daunting so we abandoned ship; it’s now sitting proudly in the basement, also eagerly awaiting its Big Moment. So it’s been one of those weekends — the kind you look back on and wonder what it is you actually accomplished. At the very least, I get the chance to tell you about this hearty cranberry cornbread. I know maybe it feels premature in the season for cranberry recipes, but hang with me here: slathered with a little soft butter and runny honey, there’s nothing I’d rather eat right now on the cool, crisp Seattle mornings we’ve been having lately.  

This past week, there was a day when you could’ve found me sitting in the middle of our bed with many a cookbook and magazine strewn about trying to plan out recipes to make and freeze before the baby arrives (do you have any favorites? I’d honestly love to know; I’m feeling overwhelmed)! As it stands now, in our house when dinnertime rolls around, we do a lot of the ‘what do you feel like?’ ‘I don’t know, what do you feel like?” and by the time we’ve successfully answered that question one of us is off to the grocery store and we’re lucky if we’re eating by 8:30 p.m. I’m well aware that this isn’t ideal or sustainable with a brand new baby, so I want to be sure we’re pretty well stocked to avoid the scenario.

In addition to meal planning, the closet in our guest room has little piles of items with family member’s names on them, leading Sam to draw the conclusion that I’ve surely lost my mind. But it turns out that when you’re expecting a November baby, it’s possible you may start worrying about Christmas gifts in October. I just know that it will be the absolute last thing we’re going to want to be bothered with, and I want to make sure we have this safe little bubble to linger in without to-do lists or grocery lists or Christmas concerns. So while we’ve both been working hard to get things taken care of at work so we can step away next month, it’s these little things I didn’t anticipate that would be keeping me up at night.

Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries | A Sweet Spoonful

And that actually brings me to this cranberry cornbread, a recipe I was testing out to possibly make for Thanksgiving this year. It’s from Maria Speck’s newest book, Simply Ancient Grains, a cookbook I’ve been looking at longingly since it arrived months ago but haven’t yet had a chance to cook from. While we’ve never met in person, I think of Maria as my whole grain sister in crime: her first book, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, is truly an invaluable resource if you’re looking for new and interesting ways to work whole grains into each meal of the day. Not surprisingly then, her newest book is just as much of a keeper — this time around, Maria focuses on making whole grains accessible to home cooks with lots of time saving and do-ahead tips.

I made a few very small tweaks to Maria’s recipe that I’ll note here: she calls for 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt and I used 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt instead. In addition, her recipe uses fresh or frozen cranberries as well as dried cranberries, but I decided to forego the dried cranberries and use all frozen instead. If you’d like to try both, Maria recommends 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries and 1/3 cup dried cranberries.

So while I realize the closet of your guest room may not be peppered with Christmas gifts and hopefully no one has found you sitting in the middle of your bed virtually in tears over chili recipes, I think you’re going to be happy to have this cornbread around the house. At the very least, it has a way of turning a not-so-productive day into something notable. Also, we froze half of it for when the baby arrives. And for that, Maria, my future self thanks you.

Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

Honeyed Spelt Cornbread with Fresh Cranberries

  • Yield: 8-12 servings
  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cook time: 25 mins
  • Inactive time: 10 mins
  • Total time: 50 mins

Maria calls for fine-ground cornmeal in her recipe, but I used medium-ground and it turned out just fine. I find the sweetness of this cornbread super subtle (and perfect), but if you know yourself and think you’d like a little more sweetness, Maria recommends increasing the amount of honey to 2/3 cup instead. 

Ever-so-slightly adapted from Simply Ancient Grains

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup (225g) stone-ground whole grain cornmeal
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon (120g) whole grain spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup honey, plus more to serve
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (do not thaw)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more to serve

Instructions

Position a rack in the center of the oven and place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on it. Preheat the oven to 450F for at least 15 minutes. Remove 2 tablespoons of the measured cornmeal and add it to a small bowl.

Whisk together the remaining cornmeal, the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs to blend. Gently whisk in the buttermilk, followed by the oil, honey and zest until smooth. Add the egg mixture to the center of the flour mixture, and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Don’t overmix; the batter should look a little lumpy.

Add the cranberries to the small bowl of reserved cornmeal and toss to coat — this prevents the fruit from sinking to the bottom. Gently fold into the batter.

Using thick oven mitts, carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the butter (it will sizzle and brown for great flavor) and tilt it carefully to coat the bottom and the sides of the pan. Scrape the batter into the hot skillet. Decrease the oven temperature to 400 F. Bake until the edges of the cornbread turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm or room temperature.

Comments

  1. Jess @ Tinder District

    Never too early for cranberries, in my opinion! This sounds PERFECT for a chilly morning!

  2. Anna

    I know that I put a few different things in the freezer to eat after our son was born but the only thing I can clearly remember was burritos filled with beans and quinoa and corn (among other things) and those worked out surprisingly well. The car seat is not nearly as scary as it seems and if you have a fire station nearby they can check it for you to make sure it is installed properly. Before my son was born it was so hard to imagine how it would all work out, but you'll find your way slowly but surely. Just don't be afraid to reach out to your community for help!

    1. megang

      Thanks so much, Anna. Frozen burritos it is! And we found a place that can check the carseat out this Saturday, so that's nice to know someone will look at it who knows what they're doing. Thanks for the advice ~ Megan

  3. Nicole

    Oh Megan, we are so much alike ... I also started stockpiling xmas gifts in the months before Sierra was born, made a cake for my father in law's birthday and stuck it in the freezer, etc. etc. I will say I didn't cook too much to freeze, mostly because my freezer was so small and I imagined I'd be cooking anyway, which turned out to be true. But if I HAD, I think I'd have made lots of creamy vegetable soups, a casserole (lasagna with lots of veggies?) or two, some whole grain muffins/scones. Maybe you could make and freeze rice and quinoa if those last well. I ended up doing loads of stir fries and scrambled eggs and vegetable pastas after she was born because I was SO HUNGRY, it felt good to cook, and I wanted simple, nourishing, and fresh things. I have a feeling you will end up cooking a bit, too :) Anyway - enjoy these slow weekends - soup can be made tomorrow, and the car seat installed at the last moment. This precious quiet time - it's so precious! xo

    1. megang

      Thank you, Nicole. I know we're a lot alike -- that's why I liked you from the second I met you :) It's nice to hear that you found time to cook and it wasn't so urgent. There will be a lot of down time, so it's hard to imagine not being able to get some cooking done -- although as I told Anne in an email this morning, for some reason it does feel like preparing for the apocalypse for some reason. I need to get over that. Hope you're good! Saw your IG post about sleep today, and hoping you guys get in some good naps; 4:30 is too early!

  4. Heather

    Our son was born on Dec. 14th 2 years ago - I too had my holiday tasks done in October! I even had frozen cookie dough made to bake closer to the holidays.

    I remember making a hearty lentil and veggie soup, butternut squash lasagna and meatballs. They were all amazing, easy and heart warming in those first few weeks of parenthood.

    Good Luck and Congrats!

  5. Sarah U

    Megan, you're not alone! :) We are expecting our first baby tomorrow (!!) and I, too, have little piles of Christmas gifts stuffed in closets and just this morning sorted recipes into a pile labeled "quick, easy meals." Mostly what I have stocked my freezer with is soups, specifically Barefoot Contessa's Winter Minestrone (left out the noodles) and Butternut Squash soup. Also in there is some homemade pasta sauce - Giada's pasta pomodoro and Ina's Weeknight Bolognese for a super easy dinner. Smitten Kitchen has several good ideas for freezer meals that I would have loved to have made, but our little freezer is already full. (Probably too many Michigan blueberries in there!) We just spent our last weekend without baby getting all those little odd projects done...you'll get there! You've still got time - and if you don't get those little things done, you'll still get to snuggle your baby :) That's what I kept telling myself so I wouldn't get overwhelmed in these last days. Happy nesting!!

    1. megang

      Thanks for your comment, Sarah, and best of luck to you guys! I love Ina's recipes and will check out Weeknight Bolognese recipe. And yes, we have A LOT of frozen fruit in our freezer, too -- time for smoothies!

  6. Jennifer

    Beef stew beef stew beef stew was all I could think of after the birth of my third baby in Aug. I always crave red meat after birth, iron? This recipe is delicious. Enjoy your babymoon!

    Beef Stew with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Vegetables Recipe | Epicurious.com http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/beef-stew-with-shiitake-mushrooms-and-baby-vegetables-1551

    1. megang

      Yes, Jennifer, making beef stew this week! I've become anemic in pregnancy so have been trying to stock up anyway ... the recipe from Epicurious looks delicious. Thank you!

  7. Amanda

    I second the freezer burritos! I use a riff of Shutterbean's version, adding roasted sweet potato and sauteed kale. I also made Smitten Kitchen's broccoli-cheddar soup this week (adding some bits of cooked potato at the end) and have half of that in the freezer too--it's a great recipe. Also recommend unbaked scones, stuffed shells (I use the Annie's Eats version with sausage), and loads of sliced sourdough (toast, sandwiches, etc.). Best of luck to you! Oh and if you do want/need a great veg chili recipe--mine has about 10 kinds of beans, loads of veg, and is very filling--I'm happy to send it your way :)

    1. megang

      I hadn't thought of freezer burritos, but love the idea, and I remember seeing Shutterbean's recipe so I'll head over and check it out. Great idea to add kale and sweet potatoes. If it's easy, love to see your chili recipe. Thanks, Amanda!

  8. Jordan

    Smitten Kitchen Middle Eastern Turkey meatballs are perfect for the freezer, and versatile. You could eat them with a green salad, chickpeas, or in a pita. Some roast or mashed sweet potatoes might be a nice thing to have on hand. I also make my own black bean burgers and freeze them. And you could make a batch of waffles to heat up in the toaster when you need a quick breakfast.

    1. megang

      Those sound amazing, Jordan! Thanks for pointing them out. Right up our alley!

  9. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This looks so satisfying - definitely one of those slice and eat loaves that can be eaten for breakfast or a snack! Love it!

  10. Anne

    I second what Nicole said! We ended up cooking a lot with a newborn - in fact, now is when I wish I had a well stocked freezer (2 years later!) I did, however, make a lot of granola :) muffins, several Smitten Kitchen French Onion Tarts, meatballs, pesto, etc... We also did a huge grocery stock up: sausage to freeze, quinoa, rice, pasta etc., dried fruit/nuts/seeds etc. Stock that larder and you will be fine!

    PS my tip is to cook/prep dinner in the AM. You will likely be up early and baby will be happier. Not so much (for either of you) come 5pm ;)

    1. megang

      Good tip on cooking in the mornings, Anne. I find that's when I have the most energy now, so that makes perfect sense. And yes ... was thinking a good grocery stock-up will last us for a bit. xox

  11. Lydia

    I had a few loaves of quick breads in the freezer (banana bread, mostly), and I was so grateful to have them. I'd grab a slice or 2 and stuff it in my mouth- food you can eat with one hand is important!

    The kind of casseroles I like to have in the freezer are lasagna or mac and cheese.

  12. momgordon

    You do know that your mother cooks when she comes, right?

  13. Ashley

    You guys are ready! I'm so impressed by your preparation.
    We can't wait to meet the little one!!

  14. molly

    Megan,

    15 Augusts ago, I stood at a hot, hot stove, on a hot, hot summer's day, stirring not one but three pots of soup, because I knew I *ought* to. Never mind my being 38 huge awkward weeks. The freezer must be stocked! The meals made ready!! I sweated. My feet smarted. I soldiered on.

    And three weeks later? When (miracle of miracles!!) we were on The Other Side? I pulled out that first cube of soup... and at all of two spoonfuls. It tasted of all that labor and toil, when all I wanted to do was stare into new eyes and marvel over tiny star hands. Again, a week later. And again and again. By the time my firstborn was one, I purged every last box of soup from the freezer (read: most) and started over. Because what is a baby if not a fresh start?

    Crisp apples. Sharp cheese. Good boxed oat-y crackers. Bad boxed any-crackers. Almonds by the pound. All you need, really, that first year. (Plus meals made by friends, which arrive like small miracles in steady procession at your doorstep for months. Months! You never knew you had such a deep bench.)

    You are so prepared, already. The three of you? All you need. Truly.

    Sending peace and strength and plenty of laughter in these coming days and weeks.

    xx,
    Molly

    1. megang

      Molly- Thank you so much for this sweet, thoughtful comment. I've been waiting all week until I had the real time to truly respond. So reassuring to hear that so many of you didn't go crazy with freezer meals / planning and just let things unfold a bit more loosely. This week I made some beef stew and carnitas, and today I'm going to cook some whole grains to freeze ... and I think we're calling it a day after that. And use all that cooking time to go on nice, long walks. Thank you so much for always stopping in. When things calm down over here, let's meet up for coffee one of these days!! Happy Sunday, Megan

  15. El

    The cake looks wonderful. I can't imagine anyone would expect a Christmas gift when you're expecting a baby but it's very sweet of you to plan! Hope all is well.

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