Whoever said you should never work with, live with, or work and live with your best friend must have never had a best friend like Ashton. I’ve known her forever. We grew up in the same neighborhood, rode our matching metallic bikes to school, walked together at graduation, and, in college, lived together while working at the same print shop. It’s one of those ‘doesn’t matter what happens, we’ll always be friends’ kind of things that I’m so lucky to have.
Two years ago, she moved to China to pursue teaching. And it’s been terrible to have her so far, but I’m so happy that she’s doing something brave and amazing. On our way-too-infrequent FaceTime chats, we talk about everything we’re going to do when she gets back for a visit, which usually involves a lot of cooking and baking.
When we lived together, we dreamed of opening up our own bakery someday and spent many nights experimenting with recipes in our tiny yellow kitchen. One of my favorite recipes she showed me was something her grandpa passed down to her. It was a very basic ‘Great Depression’ cornbread created in the 1930’s. It was made with a mix of self rising flour, cornmeal, and buttermilk that, in the spirit of The Great Depression, we always ate with a can of beans. After all, we were both paying our way through college and living on our own so a meal that cost cents to make felt appropriate.
Every time I make cornbread, I think about the simple version Ashton showed me. But every now and then I like to dress it up a little bit. This recipe has sweet honey, smokey bacon, and slightly spicy guajillo chiles brought together with moist pumpkin and a hint of cinnamon. Using a half flour and half cornmeal makes for a nice cake-y texture that’s not too gritty like a lot of cornbreads can be.
I’m also not eating this with beans. Instead, chili. This chili, to be exact. This is such a great fall side dish, try it for your next dinner or share your variations below!
Pumpkin Honey Cornbread with Guajillo Chiles and Bacon
- 1 Dried Guajillo Pepper
- 1 Cup Very Hot Water
- 2 Strips Bacon
- 1 Egg
- 1 Cup Milk (Buttermilk or any other dairy milk)
- 1/3 Cup Honey
- 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 1/2 Cup Pumpkin
- 1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 Cup Yellow Cornmeal
- 1/4 Tsp Salt
- 3 Tsp Baking Powder
Preheat the oven to 400. Place a cast iron skillet or heavy oven proof pan on medium heat. Slice off the stem of the guajillo and run your knife down the pepper lengthwise. Remove the seeds, place in a bowl, and pour the hot water over it. Let soak for 25 minutes or until soft.
Place the bacon in the pan and cook. Remove from the pan and drain off the excess fat, leaving a thin coating. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
Combine egg, milk, vegetable oil, honey, pumpkin and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, salt and powder. Add the flour to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Thinly slice the pepper and add it to the mixture along with the bacon and stir to incorporate.
Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.