I made this cornbread recipe from Mark Bittman. It calls for heating the fat (butter/olive oil/lard/bacon drippings) in the baking pan and then pouring the cornbread batter in. It came out great. I used butter – and less sugar than was called for, and could have used even less because of the sweetness of the corn.
I wondering about this technique. It seemed to be "frying" the cornbread around the sides, which turned a lovely light brown. Is the idea that the fat gets absorbed on the outside edges only? I've made corn muffins before and combined the fat (vegetable oil) with the other 'wet' ingredients (eggs, milk).
Is this technique used with other kinds of breads/baked goods?
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put fat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or in an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven.
Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix eggs into milk, then stir this mixture into dry ingredients, combining with a few swift strokes. If mixture seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
When fat and oven are hot, remove skillet or pan from oven, pour batter into it and smooth out top. Return pan to oven. Bake about 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and sides have pulled away from pan; a toothpick inserted into center will come out clean. Serve hot or warm.