Before I dive into this post, I must tell you about this fabulous sheet cake pan I found at TJ Maxx. It’s a high-sided Nordic Ware half-sheet pan fitted with a plastic lid. I just love it!
This aluminum baking pan is just the right size to bake my recipe for Giant Cornbread for a Crowd. It’s the perfect size for a Texas chocolate sheet cake, or any sheet cake for that matter. And the handy snap-on, high-domed, sturdy, translucent lid makes the pan perfect for transport.
I’ve had great luck finding lidded Nordic Ware baking pans at TJ Maxx at very reasonable prices. I have another that’s a quarter-sheet pan, and recently found that Nordic Ware makes a variety of sheet pans and muffin pans with the same lovely snap-on lids. (I have no affiliation with Nordic Ware or TJ Maxx – just love these pans and the store where I bought them.I’ve also found them online at Bed, Bath & Beyond and Amazon.)
Dimensions are 18″ x 13″ x 2″. The domed lid adds another inch or so. There’s plenty of room for highly frosted and decorated cakes.
What do I do with this lovely baking pan? All kinds of sheet cakes, obviously. But it really came in handy when my daughter hosted her youngest son’s 3rd birthday party. She invited a crowd of twenty or so, children and adults, and made pots of regular chili and white bean chili. Jessica asked me to bring cornbread.
My first thought went to muffins. But I didn’t want to fill all the muffin cups. And what if some guests wanted two or more muffins? I wasn’t into making three muffin pans. I opted to bake a Giant Cornbread for this crowd! So simple! So frugal! So delicious!
Now, for all you cornbread purists out there: This is a sweet cornbread made with yellow cornmeal, sugar AND honey. Not a southern savory cornbread. I wanted the finished product to appeal to a gaggle of hungry toddlers. The result was everything you’d expect from a good cornbread. It was crispy outside, moist inside, and sweet with the perfect crumb.
Next time you need a bread side for a crowd, whip up a batch!
Growing up, our family was incredibly spoiled at Christmas time. My mother, Shirley, and my paternal grandmother, Grandma Szewczyk, excelled at baking. Because Grandma Szewczyk lived directly across an alley from us, we were doubly blessed.
My mom’s walnut roll was a Christmas must have. My grandmother would make one filled with poppyseeds – makowiec. Poppyseeds to Polish folks are believed to bring good luck, so it is traditional to serve the poppyseed variation at Christmas and New Year’s. Over the years, Grandma deferred to my mother’s walnut roll, but continued to make her more than fair share of baked goodies.
My Polish grandmother made this traditional bread throughout the year. We lived directly across an alley from her house, so Grandma was always bringing over freshly baked goodies. Chalka was one of our very favorites. It’s fabulous warm out of the oven or toasted for breakfast with lots of butter.
Somehow, I grew up taking much of the food we ate for granted. Polish food, like sauerkraut and kielbasa, we knew were ethnic foods, but this raisin bread I didn’t realize was part of a traditional Polish Christmas Eve or Wigilia, I stumbled onto a great website Polish Christmas Eve Supper Recipes – Wigilia As I read through the recipes, several we ate throughout the year. My grandmother and dad would go mushroom hunting near our home – dry them, and save them for soup or added to sauerkraut. I remember having uszka (“little ear” dumplings) just once, when my grandma’s sister came to the United States from Poland for a year. We ate very well. I remember how excited my father was, because the two sisters, his mother and aunt, were busy in the kitchen making many of the foods he remembered from his childhood. My dad also loved chalka. He would ask me to make it for him, when he and my mother would come to visit. And he asked me sometimes to use dried fruit rather than raisins, like the kind of candied fruit used in fruit cake.
Just in time for tailgating parties and fall picnics, or just for yummy sloppy joes and pulled pork sandwiches, these delicious hamburger buns hit the mark. Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I also have more time to do lot more bread baking. I love homemade yeast breads.
I found this phenomenal recipe at Brown Eyed Baker, where the author, Michelle, described these buns as “light and sturdy, tender and moist.” Michelle said these buns will stand up the most hardy burgers or cheeseburgers, but the little nooks and crannies inside lend the buns well for saucier fillings, like spoonsful of sloppy joes, and forksful of pulled pork. I’ve made them three times now, and slathered spoonsful of sloppy joes, forksful of pulled pork, and even toasted them for a large breakfast sandwich of fried egg, bacon or sausage with a slice of cheese. One morning my husband toasted one and ate it with his scrambled eggs like he would toast. Shiny and slightly sweet, Richard and I fell in love.