Friday, January 13, 2012

Southern Cornbread

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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.

Serves 8

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



  1. I love cornbread but the Celt despises it so it is never made in this house. Pity, really, because your recipe sounds great. Maybe a trip to the lake is in my future. Hope you're both well.

  2. I am a big fan of cornbread. And you are correct -- the seasoned iron skillet is essential.

  3. This looks so good, especially the crusty part, that I want to make some here. I'll have to be satisfied with the ordinary kind, however, because I have no iron pan, no self-rising corn meal, and no buttermilk. However, the next time I go back to Ohio....

  4. Oh Blue, these younger people are impossible, aren't they? We are going to have to start sitting Chris and the Celt below the salt. So many likes and dislikes when they get to be of a certain age...Tell you what, I'll make some split pea soup for us and they can go pick up their bread from Panera! Classicist you are invited too! As to Parnassus, waiting for Ohio seems to be a good idea.

  5. My mother, the good southern cook she was, always cooked cornbread in cast iron (skillet, muffin pan, corn stick pan) and I have to admit, used rendered bacon fat AND sugar. My dad extolled the southern cornbread without sugar. My mother would shake her head in polite agreement but when SHE made the cornbread, she added a tablespoon or so. When I said that dad said the cornbread had no sugar, she shrugged and said, "Your dad talks. I cook." My favorite cornbread recipe is found in Crescent Dragonwagon's Soup and Bread cookbook. We change lanes here. I prefer the whole grain (Bob's Mill). To her recipe, I add another egg and use all butter for the oil since I am not a fan of the engineered Canola oil. My Yankee husband with the improbable name of Jeff Davis loves it!

  6. My grandmother made the most incredible cornbread, never to be duplicated. My mother would watch her make it and do it exactly the same way. It never came out the same. She didn't really use a recipe, but did use an iron skillet. I remember having it left over for breakfast, with syrup on it. Needless to say, her Thanksgiving dressing started out with her cornbread. Wonderful and delicious memories. P. S. - As life-long Southerners, we shun sweet cornbread! lol

  7. Home,

    There is some sugar in this one, but not enough to make it sweet. I am not a fan of canola per se but always follow a recipe the first time to a t before making any changes. This was so good I don't want to change a thing about it!


    Thanks for reminding me of the maple syrup. So goooood!

  8. Self-rising flour and cornmeal--almost impossible to find in Chicago, and in NYC when I lived there. My Mom always laughs when I tell her to send me a bag or two.

    And my favorite way to eat cornbread--cold, and crumbled in a glass with cold milk poured over top! A true southern delicacy.

  9. Hello Julieta, I do bring back Jiffy from the States, but I know better! I haven't found MY true cornbread recipe so I decided to give this one a whirl. I had to modify slightly being in France using yoghurt for buttermilk. It came out very nicely textured and moist but with one extremely important omission that I should have caught - salt! I was wondering what is in cornmeal mix and if I am missing more than I think by just using cornmeal (no mix)?

  10. Gesbi,

    The mix has a touch of the White Lily flour. Southern flour and cornmeal is different from others. It is lighter. Very difficult to replicate these recipes abroad. BTW it was no omission...there is no salt in this recipe but you can add a touch if you like.

  11. Oh dear, now I really feel decadent. We slathered good Brittany salted butter on it thinking we were correcting my mistake!


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