The traditional Southern cornbread is not sweet and is baked in a very hot cast iron skillet. These are the main differences from the cornbread most of us grew up with. Both are equally delicious and it's just a matter of preference as to which you choose to make at any given time.
I have to admit that until a week ago my preference was for the kind I grew up in the North...yellow and sweet. My daughter always keeps a box or two of the Jiffy Cornbread mix and although not as good as homemade, it works in a pinch.
When Mother was here, I bought some magazines to keep her entertained and among them was a copy of Southern Living's Best Recipes of last year. I had it close at hand on the night I served split pea soup and rather than go rummaging for my old recipe, I decided to try theirs. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my world of food. Not only was it to die for, it converted me forever to the Southern camp. The crustiness of the top is what takes this recipe over the top. It stays like this even after you reheat it the next day. But in order to get this crustiness, you must use a cast iron skillet and preheat it before the cornmeal is poured in.
I used White Lily white cornmeal which is available in every Southern supermarket but may not be available where you live. I know this makes a lot of you very jealous and we have gone through very lively discussions on the merits of White Lily flour when making biscuits; but this is cornmeal, so it is not a tragedy. In this case you can use any brand of self rising white cornmeal and it won't be a sacrilege.
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 3/4 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix
2 cups nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 425°. Coat bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with canola oil; heat in oven 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together cornmeal mix, buttermilk, flour, egg, melted butter, and sugar. Pour batter into hot skillet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden.
Recipe Southern Living