My Favorite Cornbread Recipe…

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Cornbread is a staple food here in the south. In fact, if you go to a southern restaurant, it’s not surprising to see cornbread listed as a vegetable side. When I first moved here I decided to try making cornbread from scratch, since up to that point I had only had it from the lovely little blue jiffy box. I bought the ingredients, looked up a recipe from a southern magazine and got to work.

You can imagine my horror when I bit into it and it was dry, crumbly and almost savory! I asked around and found out that southern cornbread is nothing like the rest of the country eats. It’s meant to be, you know, bread. In fact, most people crumble it into whatever they’re eating. No light fluffy cornbread here. In desperation I went to the store and looked for a different kind of cornmeal. I found the cheapest most enriched cornmeal I could find and used the recipe on the back, making sure there was a liberal amount of sugar in the recipe.

Finally, I had found what I had been craving. This was what I remember. At the same time, I knew something was off. Maybe it was the months of getting used to Southern Cornbread, but it seemed too sweet. I was serving it with dinner, but it felt like it should be for dessert. The following recipe is my Yankee leaning compromise. It is still  sweet, but the addition of some stone milled cornmeal gives it a bit more texture and cutting down on the sugar brought out the flavor of the cornmeal itself.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cheapo enriched corn meal
  • 1/4 cup real cornmeal
  • (For a sweeter, cake like cornbread use all enriched. For a heartier cornbread use 1/2 cup stone milled cornmeal and 1/2 cup enriched.)
  • 1 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3 Tablestoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (whole is best, but anything will work.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (You can use “drippings” as well, as in bacon drippings. I think it’s a bit rich, so I’ll throw in a few Tablespoons with the oil. Great flavor and totally old school.)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease an 8″ or 9″¬† pan or skillet with shortening or lard. (I swear by my 9″ cast iron skillet. You can get them super cheap new, and I think it’s worth if it if all you ever cook in it is cornbread. )
  2. Put greased skillet into oven and get it super hot while you mix the ingredients. It should only need to be in there a few minutes. This gives cornbread that amazing crispy, almost fried, crust. **
  3. Blend all dry ingredients in medium bowl. Mix in wet ingredients and stir until incorporated. It will be a bit lumpy but it should all be wet.
  4. Pour batter into hot pan and cook for 18-25 minutes. Anything over 18 in my cast iron skillet will burn. The original recipes said 20-25 minutes, so I assume that’s for a different kind of pan.
  5. You can tell it’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes about 9 servings. It’s best served warm with butter, honey and possibly some sorghum syrup if you’re lucky enough to live in the south. :)

**Thanks for this piece of advice from my rad boss and co-worker. It really helps to have honest to goodness southerners to bounce ideas off of!

  1. julialuna commented on June 24th, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Melanie………..it was so fun meeting you tonight at the cooking class and I can’t wait to come to the restaurant. Your web site is fabulous and fun to read. I hate to tell you though…..”real” Southern cornbread doesn’t have sugar and it’s all cornmeal…..or at least very little flour added and usually made with buttermilk. Three Rivers, before the brand was discontinued, was the best brand. White Lily is pretty much it now, although stone ground is better when you can find a good one.

    Thanks for a lovely evening…………..Judie Luna

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