30 June 2011

True Southern Cornbread

We Southerners have some pretty fixed ideas about cornbread and how it should be prepared. As you know, I grew up in Louisiana. Louisiana is on the Gulf coast in the Deep South and this is our family recipe for cornbread. So let's get something settled right off the bat.

It's not cornbread if it is not baked in a cast iron skillet!

This is the #1 rule. If you bake it in some other pan, you will get a facsimilie, but it is just not the same. I see recipes all the time now that call for baking it in a Pyrex dish or a non-stick baking pan and I just cringe! Cornbread should have a nicely browned, crispy crust on the bottom and sides. To achieve that crust, you need to heat your iron skillet on the stove top with some oil in it while you are mixing up your batter. When you pour your batter into the hot skillet, it starts to form the beautiful crust. With other pans you do not get this crispy brown crust.

Then there is also the business about the ratio of cornmeal to flour, and whether or not you should add any sugar. Traditional cornbread should not be more than a 1:4 ratio of flour to cornmeal. If you see a recipe that calls for equal parts or 1:2, put it aside and go look for another recipe. That's not southern cornbread. As to the sugar, there are many southerners that eschew the use of it altogether. Sugar helps with browning, so we add just a small amount of sugar to our batter. You can leave it out, if you so desire.

Cornbread goes with so many different southern foods that it is something we serve fairly often. It is our favourite accompaniment for vegetable soup, as well as peas, greens and many other veggies..

While not absolutely necessary, I like to use stone ground cornmeal and I get it from Falls Mill, an old waterwheel mill in Belvidere, TN, which makes it a local product for me. Today I'm also using organically grown free-range duck eggs from my CSA box, but normally I use chicken eggs.

Heating the skillet - you can see how the oil is getting hot.

Wet and dry ingredients

Note: If you use duck eggs, they will need to be beaten more than chicken eggs to incorporate some air.

Ready to bake

Lovely cornbread turned out of skillet

Sliced and ready to serve on one of my favourite Fiesta plates

People at this house could inhale this cornbread. Tori and I have both been known to eat only cornbread for supper sometimes. LOL. This is one of those recipes where I don't really need to get the recipe out to look at. I just make it. It's really easy and if you try it I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Country Cornbread
Serves 8

3 Tbsp oil, divided
2 cups yellow corn meal
6 Tbsp flour
2 tsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
8 pats of butter

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat cast iron skillet on stove top with 1 Tbsp oil.

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. In a batter bowl, whisk the eggs, 2 Tbsp oil, and milk. Pour the liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to just combine. Pour cornbread batter into hot iron skillet and bake about 30 minutes or till done.

Cut in 8 wedges. Slice the wedges in half horizontally and place a pat of butter in each one. Serve immediately!

With this recipe I'm joining:
Michael Lee's Foodie Friday @ Designs By Gollum
Friday's Favourites by Sandi & Bill @ Whistlestop Cafe Cooking
Kim's Recipes to Run On

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

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Bev said...

I am from the South but I am not a big cornbread fan because it is just to dry for my taste. Yours looks so pretty and came out really nice though.

Susan G said...

Great to see you back posting! I have missed you! BTW, Cornbread and Milk has been my dinner plenty of times, too!

Laura B said...

oh i loooooooooove cornbread!

Jan AA said...

Becky I have always used white cornmeal, my sister-in-law always yellow...wondering what is the difference I cannot tell in taste!

Sally FP said...

Yes! Cornbread should NOT be sweet!

Karen VB said...

My dad used to eat cornbread and sweet milk.

Paula G said...

No cornbread and milk for me! I do not like soggy cornbread! :)

Margie said...

Thank you for the lesson in True Southern Cornbread! I love the timing of this, as I'm currently making a batch myself for dinner. I'm sorry to report, my cornbread does not meet all your criteria. The cornmeal to flour ratio is wrong and I'm using 3 kinds of sugar, plus corn kernels and bacon. Unfortunately, my cast iron pan is too small for the batch, so I think I'll go shopping for a larger one, so at least I can be proper on that point in the future!

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Hi Becky
Thanks so much for stopping by the Back Porch. We are having crappie again tonight for supper. J's luck was not good on earlier visits to the lake, this year, but this time it is a different fish story.:-)

Your cornbread looks fabulous!!
I grew up in the hills and hollers of southwest Missouri...a hillybilly and proud. I make my cornbread like my my mother did and that is the same as you make yours. My granny made hoe cakes on an iron griddle as well as cornbread. I use J's mother's very old and well seasoned iron skillet.

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing your precious family recipe. I learn something new about cornbread today! :) I usually use my cast iron for steaks and can't wait to bake a lovely cornbread in it soon. Gotta love that brown crispy crust! :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your sweet comment. Truly appreciate it. Have a wonderful day.

Lizzy said...

Next cornbread will be in a cast iron skillet :)

Katie @ This Chick Cooks said...

I agree with you that cornbread must be cooking in a cast iron skillet. Your's looks so good. I wanted to invite you to come over and share your recipe at These Chicks Cooked Recipe Spotlight that I host each week. Have a great day :)

Jennifer said...

Cornbread is a staple at our house and you're right ~ it's best made right in an iron skillet...there's no two ways about it!

Kelly said...

Amen. The cast iron skillet is the only way. Only difference from your recipe and mine is I put the skillet in the oven while it is heating up to warm it and and heat the oil.