Perfect Southern Cornbread
I'm a southern girl through and through, from my overall style to my taste in music, and I am most definitely a totally southern girl when it comes to the foods I love. One of those southern foods I love so much is cornbread. When I was little it was a food I liked, but given a choice I would pick a biscuit over cornbread. It seems that the older I get the more I love cornbread though. I remember my Nana baking a big ol' loaf in her cast iron skillet. My Daddy aka Mr. Picky Eater? He bakes corn muffins. I don't care what form it's in, just give me cornbread.
My Nana, never used a mix when she made hers, and my Daddy has always used a mix. He is of the opinion that if you can shortcut it and it's still good then why go to the trouble of making it from scratch. I agree with that about somethings and I won't knock cornbread mix because some brands are good, and sometimes I want it fast and easy so I'll reach for a mix too. But, I'm one of those people who feels like if I love something I want to learn to make it from scratch, whether it is a chocolate cake, biscuits, scallop potatoes or cornbread. I mastered the chocolate cake long ago, and yes I'll admit that sometimes I still go with cake mix, it all depends on my mood and the amount of time I have to spare. I won't lie I haven't mastered biscuits yet, although there have been no failures to date, I have yet to turn out a biscuit that's tall and super soft in the middle like I want. Mine usually turn out a little crumbly and a bit on the flatter side. Cornbread was a similar story for me.
I tried a recipe for "southern" cornbread a few weeks back that seemed promising, but didn't hit the mark for me. The taste was decent and thanks to a pretty large amount of oil in the batter as well as the skillet I didn't have a problem with it being too dry, but my cornbread came out super flat, nothing at all like the recipe assured it would be. Oh, well, I figured it was time to try again. After some searching, and arguing...umm debating with Mr. Picky Eater I was determined to try again. After all the searching I went back to a recipe I tried long ago and remembered as pretty good. So, I pulled out my bag of corn meal and started tweaking because I can rarely leave well enough alone. The recipe said to bake in an 8" square baking pan, but I felt it was a must to use Nana's cast iron skillet, so I upped the measurements, and substituted buttermilk for plain milk and hoped for the best. Mr. Picky Eater's only complaint was that it needed salt, which as you will see the recipe calls for (and I did not forget to add), so perhaps I would go with 2 teaspoons of salt next time. I, however, did not notice a need for more salt, so who knows.
I think I was channeling my beautiful Nana and she was smiling down on me as I baked this cornbread, because it came out nice and tall, with just the right texture, perfectly moist, and a beautiful golden brown. Yes, I'm pretty much in love with this cornbread. That's not weird to admit is it? It is? Oh well, I'm a food loving girl, it just can't be helped.
If you don't have a cast iron skillet or want a slightly smaller batch scroll down past the first recipe and you'll find the original measurements for baking in an 8" square baking pan. Muffin tins would work well too, (the original recipe states 10 servings). Also, I haven't tried this recipe with regular milk yet, but I would probably add a little less milk if using regular since it is thinner than buttermilk. Once I try it with regular milk I'll give an update on whether the measurement needs to be adjusted. The batter should be pourable, but not runny.
- 1 1/2 cups plain cornmeal
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- additional oil to coat skillet
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Add just enough oil to 10-inch cast iron skillet to lightly coat the bottom. Add to preheating oven.
- Mix together dry ingredients, and set aside.
- Whisk together eggs, then along with oil and milk, add to the dry ingredients.
- Gently stir until all ingredients are combined (I find a whisk works best for this.)
- A few lumps will remain in the batter, make sure not to overmix.
- Add a tiny amount of batter to preheated skillet, and if the oil sizzles you are ready to add the batter. Pour batter into the skillet and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. When a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean it is done.
- If you are using an 8-inch square baking pan, muffin tins, an 8-inch cast iron skillet or just prefer a slightly thinner cornbread, use the measurements listed below. If using an 8-inch square baking pan or muffin tins omit adding oil to pan, instead spray with non-stick cooking spray, and skip preheating the pan.
Smaller Batch Ingredients
- 1 cup plain cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- non-stick cooking spray