One of my favorite things about cooking with my kids is the conversations we get to have while they’re stuck with me in the kitchen. When we’re elbow-deep in pastry dough, chopping veggies, or cracking eggs, we get to talk about school, friends, activities, and hobbies they love. This time together is meant for us to connect in a fun and meaningful way.
COOKING WITH YOUR KIDS IS ONE OF THE MOST SATISFYING THINGS YOU CAN DO. FOR YOU AND FOR THEM.
As we made this dish together, I had a heart-to-heart with Kate. I asked how she feels about cooking for our family, and if she’s more comfortable following a recipe after all her time in the kitchen. (We’ve been keeping this schedule for a couple of years now!)
Honestly, I was anticipating a “Yeah,” or a “Sure, I like to cook,” so what I got back was eye-opening. She said, “Yes, it’s great! And then…. “I’ve always been scared that I’m going to become a mom and not know how to cook.”
AND THAT HURT. A LOT.
Ouch. At first it stung (more than I care to admit) when I realized that her feelings of fear were created by me; for not allowing her to help in the kitchen very much in order to build confidence and awareness.
And then…I felt enormous relief. A relief that what I’m doing as her mother IS making a difference. That with all the stress, worry and nuisance it can be sometimes, cooking with my kids has ultimately been a magical, sacred time for us to bond, and for them to glean my kitchen wisdom–to be passed on to their own families some day.
This week for dinner, Kate chose to make taco soup and sweet cornbread, in honor of our first full week of autumn. YUM! It’s one of our families favorite meal-combinations. But quite honestly, I think this cornbread could go with any meal…it’s THAT delicious.
Food is meant to be enjoyed, not just ingested.
Growing up, my family would have a box mix on-the-ready (from our year supply in the basement), which just required throwing in some eggs and milk and popping it in the oven. It didn’t taste amazing, but it got the job done.
When I got married, however, I discovered a whole new way of looking at—and preparing—food. I wanted to offer my family a delicious experience they couldn’t wait to have! Because family dinner around the table is not just about filling our bellies; it’s also about filling our souls.
When I make this sweet corn bread recipe, I anticipate the “ooohs” and “aaahs” from my kids as they dish themselves a piece, and bite into it’s warm, sweet goodness. The satisfaction it evokes is a gateway to heartfelt compliments and wonderful conversation.
On with the show!
I’d like to share with you our family’s favorite recipe for homemade sweet cornbread, so your family can enjoy it as much as mine has.
First, Kate read through the recipe, set the oven to preheat to 350º, and gathered all of her ingredients. I like to remind my kids each time they cook, to cover all the steps in this post about how to follow a recipe.
First up, gather ALL of the ingredients:
- White flour
- Granulated sugar
- Baking powder
- Kosher salt
Next, she got out all of the equipment she would need:
- 1 large bowl
- 1 small bowl
- 9×13 pan (I like to have my kids to use a glass pan so we can see how well the bread is cooking)
- Hand mixer
- Rubber spatula
- Cooking spray
Just like I describe in this post, it’s important to have your kids prep all ingredients before getting started. So Kate began with cracking open the eggs, and separating the egg yolks from the whites.
This technique takes a lot of practice, and A LOT of eggs to get right. I have to constantly remind myself that things that come naturally to me now, were not so easy once. So I need to give my kids a lot of grace to become proficient. And that kids are quick learners, but they need a parent who will be patient with their trials AND all their errors.
Next, she added the milk and vanilla, and mixed them well.
don’t tempt fate…Instead, temper your butter!
For this recipe, she got to learn a new-to-her technique, called tempering. This is when you slowly raise or lower the temperature of an ingredient to avoid undesirable results, such as: solidifying melted butter, cooking eggs that need to stay liquid, or curdling milk. We learned all about tempering here.
To do this, she carefully and slowly added small amounts of the cold liquid mix to the melted butter, lowering the temperature of the butter, to avoid solidifying it and ending up with lumps in the liquid mixture. You need to add enough of the cold mixture and mix well before dumping the rest in; I have my kids slowly combine about 1/3 of the mixture before adding the rest.
This is not Kate’s first cornbread-rodeo, so I let her pour from one bowl to the next, mixing as she poured the cold mixture into the hot, melted butter. For younger children, I recommend having them use a tablespoon and spooning one portion at a time into the melted butter, mixing between each spoonful.
Next, she added the dry ingredients and mixed until fully combined, being careful not to over-mix. You should still see lumps in the batter. This is because over-mixing the batter changes the chemical makeup of gluten in the flour, making your cornbread more dense and chewy, AND more crumbly. We want light and airy cornbread, right Kate?!
You can read all about what happens when you over-mix right here.
And now, to use the egg whites! I bet you were wondering when they would make their appearance.
Using the hand mixer, Kate beat the egg whites on high speed until they formed stiff peaks. When you whip egg whites, you are forcing air into them to make lots of little bubbles. This technique will make your cornbread turn out lighter and fluffier. YUM!
This is what you want them to look like:
When added to the batter, you need to fold in gently and don’t over-mix. You don’t want to lose all of those precious, tiny bubbles or your cornbread will fall flat as soon as you open the oven door. Here is a picture of Kate doing just that.
Next, she poured the batter straight into a greased 9 x 13 pan and spread it around evenly.
Now it’s ready for the oven! She set the timer for 30 minutes and let it do its thing while cooking the rest of her meal.
All done! Doesn’t that have the look of perfection? Great job, Kate!
We forgot to take a picture of her testing it with a toothpick. Don’t forget this step! It will mean the difference between eating a delicious, and fully cooked, cornbread or losing most of it to raw dough in the middle. Your toothpick should come out mostly clean with a few crumbs on it–no batter!
Now dish it up and serve it as a side to your favorite main dish. We paired it with our favorite Taco Soup recipe.
Don’t be shy, everyone…dig in!
As you can see, this sweet cornbread recipe is a hit with the entire family! Print it out below and get started making it with your own kiddos.
Sweet Homemade Cornbread
- 9x13 pan
- electric hand mixer
- 1 cup milk
- 4 eggs, separate yolks and whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups white flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350° and grease a 9x13 pan.In a large bowl, combine milk, egg yolks, and vanilla. Mix well.Temper the melted butter (to lower the temperature so it doesn't solidify) by adding the milk mixture, a tablespoon at a time, to the melted butter; mixing well with a whisk after each tablespoon is added.Add flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir until fully combined, but don't over-mix.In a separate bowl, use an electric hand mixer on high to beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. With a spatula, carefully fold into the batter. Pour batter into your greased 9x13 pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. (It's okay if you see crumbs.)
Last but not least, remind your kids to clean up after themselves! I love to help them clear off the counter, and place dishes in the sink to soak, while the rest of the family is washing hands and setting down at the table. It makes clean up after the meal a breeze!
My favorite part of meal prep
Cleaning up the kitchen (just a bit) right before we dig into our family meal is one of my favorite parts of dinner prep. I get to compliment my child on a meal well-prepared and help them make the kitchen look pretty again. It gives such a satisfying feeling all around.
Give this delicious, sweet cornbread recipe a try. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
And for an added bonus, try breaking it up in a bowl, adding milk, and enjoying it for breakfast! This is one of my favorite things to eat for breakfast. It’s like your own homemade cereal!
I grew up eating cornbread, and homemade whole wheat bread, this way all the time. And now my kids love it too!
And now for some behind-the-scenes fun….Isla, waiting for a bite of this yummy breakfast!