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Mert’s cornbread has secret ingredient

By Robin Domeier
You Asked For It
Restaurant writer Robin Domeier tracks down Charlotte restaurant recipes that readers have requested. Domeier is owner of Nibbles Personal Chef.

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  • Mert’s Heart and Soul

    Where: 214 N. College St.

    Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays; Dinner: 3-9:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 3-11:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; Brunch: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

    Contact: 704-342-4222

  • Mert’s Cornbread

    1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

    2/3 cup sugar

    2 large eggs, lightly beaten

    1 tablespoon mayonnaise

    1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix (see note)

    1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (see note)

    1 cup buttermilk

    1/2 cup water

    PREHEAT oven to 400. Place 2 (12-cup) standard-size muffin tins in oven and heat until hot, about 10 minutes.

    WHISK together butter, sugar, eggs and mayonnaise in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

    COMBINE cornmeal and flour and set aside.

    GRADUALLY stir the flour mixture and the buttermilk into the butter/sugar mixture, alternating between the two. You should begin and end with the buttermilk.

    STIR in the water.

    REMOVE pans from oven and spray with nonstick cooking spray or brush with butter. Divide batter evenly between the tins.

    BAKE for approximately 20 minutes.

    NOTE: Self-rising flour has baking powder and salt already mixed in. Self-rising cornmeal mix contains flour and baking powder. You can’t substitute all-purpose flour and plain cornmeal for either of these.

    YIELD 20-24 muffins.

Shannon Davis of Charlotte wants to know the recipe for the cornbread at Mert’s Heart and Soul.

“(It’s) so sweet, it melts in your mouth and it’s the perfect texture. I always want to order a few to go.”

Mert’s owner James Bazzelle began making this cornbread nearly 20 years ago while working in Georgia. And the cornbread does have a secret ingredient:


“It’s what makes it so light,” Bazzelle said.

Adding mayo (Bazzelle prefers Duke’s) sounds a little strange, but then he reminds me that “mayo is nothing more than oil and eggs.”

In addition to being a chef and restaurateur, it would seem Bazzelle has a bit of a food scientist in him as well.

The consistency of the cornbread mix reminded me of a cake batter – and heads up, this cornbread is almost as sweet as some cakes.

Bazzelle suggests making the cornbread two to three times, adjusting the sugar along the way, until you get it the way you like.

One final tip from Bazzelle:

“The secret to good cornbread is to heat the pan first.” Preheating the tins and either spraying them with nonstick cooking spray or, better yet, coating them with butter, will help the sides and bottom of the cornbread develop a crisp exterior.

It’s that exterior (plus the fluffy, moist crumb inside) that sets Mert’s cornbread apart.

Are you looking for a recipe from a Charlotte-area restaurant? Send your request to Robin Domeier, Include your name, why you like the recipe, where you live and the restaurant’s location. Domeier is owner of Nibbles Personal Chef.
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