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Please Help My Cornbread

Here's my recipe for cornbread made in two 6-inch cast-iron skillets. But it comes out WAY too dry. Is it the baking powder? Or what? Please help moisten it. Thanks!!

Corn Bread for Two Small Cast Iron Skillets

1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard, vegetable shortening, or corn or peanut oil
Nearly 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal (double = 1 3/4 cups)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (slightly less if you’re using salted buttermilk)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 cup buttermilk

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and heat to 450. Divide the fat between two 5-inch cast iron skillets.

Whisk the cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together thoroughly in a medium bowl.

Whisk the egg in a large glass measure until foamy, then whisk in the buttermilk and the corn oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Whisk just until blended.

Place the skillets in the oven and heat until the fat smokes. Carefully and quickly divide the batter between the skillets. Bake until the top is browned and the center feels firm when pressed, 14-17 minutes. Run a small offset spatula around between the cornbreads and the skillets. Remove from the skillets and serve immediately, with butter and maple syrup, or just plain.

Yield: 2 ample servings

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  1. That is a very odd amount of leavening. I think that is your problem. Here is my favorite recipe. Btw, I prefer Lamb's stoneground corn meal.

    1 cup cornmeal
    1 cup All-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 egg
    1/4 cup oil (I heat half in the pan, and put half in the batter)
    3 teaspoons baking powder
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 cup milk (no buttermilk here)

    Preheat oven and pan (with 2 Tablespoons oil) in a 450 degree oven.
    Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Combine, pour into preheated cast iron pan. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

    -Becca

    1. Not enough oil/fat. My 10" single skillet recipe calls for 1/4 cup of oil/fat...so adjust upward since you're making a 12" recipe AND splitting it into two.

      1. Any cornbread made with 100% cornmeal tends to be dry. In the revised Joy of Cooking they point this out. It should be eaten soon after baking. Once it cools, it soon becomes too dry to eat without a generous amount of butter or something else that will moisten it. It does have the best corn flavor IMO and I often use it for turkey stuffing where it will be moistened with turkey stock.

        I use about 3/4 cup all-purpose flour to 1 cup cornmeal for good flavor and texture, based on Joy's cornbread recipe (no sugar). I usually increase the butter to 2 ounces, otherwise I stick to their recipe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheryl_h

          Actually, I just made a batch that came out dry despite that it's a mix of cornmeal (1.5 cups) and flour (.5 cup). And for the amount of meal, the OP's fat/oil and leavening sound about right.

          For the OP, try soaking the cornmeal (or at least half of it) overnight in the buttermilk. It will soften the meal and make the bread less brittle and crumbly (unless you like that texture).

        2. I saw America's Test Kitchen make it just this past weekend and they added pureed fresh corn niblets to the batter to make it moister.

          1. Your ratios are a bit off. I'd leave out the sugar but that is personal. You need aboout 1 Tbs. baking powder for the recipe and more buttermilk and 2 eggs. The batter should not wait for the pans to heat, they should be heating with the oil in them as you make the batter. When somking hot add the oil to the batter, give it a quick stir and pour into the pan(S) and pop in the oven. That batter should sizzle when it hits the pan.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Candy

              Two eggs for 1 cup of cornmeal and no flour? I don't think so.

              No flour will definitely give him a denser crumb, more of a corn cake. Softening the meal is key; soaking in buttermilk or drenching with boiling water are both good options.

              1. re: dippedberry

                he said 1 3/4 C. corn meal. I would never put flour in corn meal or sugar.

                1. re: Candy

                  No, Candy, you mis-read. He says nearly 1 cup (but only 1 3/4 c. for a double recipe).

                  Most cornbread recipes have a combination of flour and cornmeal, including Bill Neal's recipes. If you don't, your choice, but inclusion of flour is as much the norm than the exception.

                  1. re: dippedberry

                    You're used to a Northern version. Candy (and others) are talking about a Southern version which is all, or mostly, corn without wheat flour. Southern cornbread is always made with NO sugar, Northern cornbread always has some. The two are very different.

                    1. re: dippedberry

                      I am aware, cheryl, which is why I said there are just as many recipes with and without. (Though your Northern/Southern distinction is just plain WRONG. Reference again to Bill Neal.)

                      "I would never put flour in corn meal or sugar."-- Candy
                      Her choice, but nothing wrong with putting flour in.