September 22nd, 2018

The Kosher Gourmet

Infused with tart lemon and savory basil, this moist cornbread makes a lovely addition to a summertime brunch or picnic

Susan Russo

By Susan Russo

Published June 24, 2015

Infused with tart lemon and savory basil, this moist cornbread makes a lovely addition to a summertime brunch or picnic
The farmers' markets here in Southern California are amazing; you can find dates, figs, guavas, kumquats, passion fruit, persimmons and pluots, but rarely do you see humble blueberries. I grew up picking and eating fresh blueberries every summer back in New England. Why, I wondered, are they so hard to find in California?

The problem is dirt. Apparently, blueberries like to grow in highly acidic soil and Southern California has alkaline soil. This presents a challenge to growing blueberries (which explains why most of the blueberries I buy at the market are from Washington).

So when I found these pristine Washington blueberries, I bought three pints. After eating enough berries to make me worried I might overdose, I decided to bake something with the remaining berries. So here is a variation of my mom's old-fashioned cornbread.

I have enjoyed experimenting with various fresh herbs in baked goods. Whereas rosemary's bold flavor remains unaltered by the oven's heat, fresh basil loses much of its intensity. So, here are my recommendations: Use an ample amount of fresh basil, a 1/3 to 1/2 cup. It won't be overpowering. Or use dried basil, which maintains its flavor better. You could also use 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried basil with some fresh basil for a prettier look.


Basil Butter:

  • 1/4 cup butter, slightly softened

  • 1 tablespoon fresh finely chopped basil

Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 F. Butter or coat with cooking spray a 5-by 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup medium coarse stone-ground cornmeal

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 2/3 cup fresh blueberries (dusted with flour)

  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced (or 1 to 2 tablespoons of dried basil for a more intense flavor)

For the basil butter: Stir chopped basil into softened butter and set aside.

For the cornbread: Remove any stems from blueberries. Wash the berries, pat dry and lightly sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour to help prevent them from sinking or bleeding color.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, lemon extract and lemon zest. Add to the flour mixture and stir quickly until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the fresh blueberries and basil.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. If it needs to bake longer but the top is already golden, then place a piece of tin foil over the top of the bread to prevent further browning. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool. Serve hot with basil butter.

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