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cornbread, what's your recipe?

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I made some last night to go with our chili and my dinner guests were commenting on how they had never eaten cornbread with actual kernels of corn in it. I call it my corny cornbread and it's a variation on my recipe. Sometimes I'll add jalapenos or bell peppers, or roasted garlic, it just depends on my mood and the audience.

Also, do you use all corn meal or half corn meal, half flour? I've found recipes with both. I think the half flour makes it cakier and less chewy.

My favorite trick so far is to make it in a cast iron skillet so that it's crispy all the way around, not just on top.

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  1. What is the traditional southern cornbread? What are the differences between northern and southern cornbread? Having grown up in the midwest in a household that did not eat cornbread I'm curious. I love cornbread.

    3 Replies
    1. re: nissenpa

      In my experience, southern cornbread is not sweetened while northern is. At least it doesn't taste sweet. I know surprising considering how much we love our sweet tea!
      I grew up in southeast Georgia and have lived in Indiana from around Indy to north of Fort Wayne for the past 9 years and that's the only difference I've noticed.

      1. re: alliedawn_98

        My mother and my aunt--both north Alabama farm girls transplanted to California--didn't stop arguing that point until they both passed on in their eighties. My mother put a little sugar in her cornbread, but my aunt would always sniff "That's not cornBREAD, that's corn CAKE!"

        I am my mother's daughter--I like mine slightly sweet. This is my favorite recipe that I've found--only I'll substitute bacon grease or lard when I have it for the butter in the pan.


        (Notice that they call this one "Real Southern Cornbread," but it does have sugar. Just like my Alabama cracker great-great-grandfather who fought for the Union, those southerners resist generalizations!)

      2. re: nissenpa

        alliedawn is correct. there is nothing sweet about southern cornbread. But everything else is riddled with either lard, butter or sugar.

      3. I've been making cornbread since I was a kid,my favorite recipe is:
        1 c flour
        1 c yellow cornmeal
        1 T.baking powder
        1 t. salt
        1/2 c sugar(1/4 c if sweet cornbread is not to your taste)
        2 eggs
        1 c milk
        1/2 c melted margarine,butter oil or shortening
        Heat oven to 400 deg.Using a cast iron skillet heat margarine,butter,oil or shorteing till hot.Mix dry ingredients together.Add eggs and milk.Quickly stir in hot margarine(or whatever fat you used)Bake in hot oven 20-25 mins till golden brown.
        For variations reduce sugar to 2 T-1/4c sugar add cheese,jalapenos,fresh,frozen or canned corn,crumbled cooked bacon,pimientoes or whatever you like.

        1. The recipe on the White Lily Corn Meal mix is as close to my grandmother's as any I've made (she was a Virginian).
          2 cups mix,
          1 large egg, beaten
          1 or 2 T sugar
          about 1 1/2+ cup buttermilk (whole) ( skim (butter)milk takes less to moisten the mixture)
          and a T or two of oil, heated in the skillet in the oven, then added to the mix and poured back in the skillet.
          Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes.

          (The buttermilk makes a major difference in texture and moistness of the bread. The preheated skillet is the second 'secret')

          1. Sweet Cornbread
            ½ cup butter (1 stick)
            1 cup sugar
            2 eggs
            1 cup yellow cornmeal
            1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
            2 tsp. Baking powder
            ½ tsp. Salt
            1 cup milk
            ½ cup steamed sweet corn (off the cob)

            In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs; beating well. Then add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and heat oven to 375 degrees. Fold the steamed sweet corn into the batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

            1. My mother's southern cornbread (not sweet):

              Heat oven to 450 degrees.
              Put two tablespoons oil into cast iron skillet and put into oven to heat.
              In the meantime, mix: 1 cup cornmeal (self-rising, White Lilly is best), 3/4 cup milk, 1 tablespoon mayonaisse (helps make it light and fluffy), 1 egg. Mix should be slightly lumpy, and do not over mix.

              Pour heated oil into mixture, then put into heated cast iron skillet.

              Depending on the size of the skillet, bake 15-30 minutes, or until edges and top are brown.

              1. For a long time this was my standard recipe:

                My First Cornbread (9 squares)

                1 c flour
                1 c cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
                ¼ c sugar (yes, I'm a Yankee)
                4 tsp baking powder (I use double-acting)
                ½ tsp salt
                1 egg (1/4 c)
                1 c milk (I frequently use evaporated milk)
                ¼ c melted butter or flavorless oil (or bacon fat or lard; half oil and half bacon fat is great)

                Preheat oven to 425F.
                Combine the dry ingredients. Beat the egg and add the milk and butter (or oil) to it. Add dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir until pretty much mixed. They always say don't overmix, but I confess I'm afraid to leave big lumps. Pour into a greased or sprayed 8-inch square pan (I'm sure I've also used a 9-inch one). Bake at 425F for 20-25 minutes or until it tests done, and the sides are pulling away from the pan. If, at that point, it is still pale, brown under the broiler.

                BUT in the last three or so years, it has evolved a bit. I use a fine corn flour (masa harina?--NOT corn starch) instead of flour, and I usually use 3/4 c of that and increase the cornmeal to 1 1/4 c.

                1. My favorite cornbreads are the smoked cheese and chili from Fields of Greens and Bert Greene's Red Pepper Cheese Bread which is actually not a cornbread at all, but a yeast bread with roasted peppers and hot peppers and cheese.

                  I make the Green's cornbread all the time. Sometimes I add chopped green onions. It already has corn kernels and diced fresh jalepenos. Annie Somerville uses smoked cheese...these folks at Tassajara and Green Gulch and Greens all love smoked cheese. When I'm not in the mood for smoked, I use various cheeses - cheddar, pepper jack, etc.

                  These are both fab.

                  1. As a new englander, I'm surprised to hear northern corn bread called sweet! Ours definitely *never* was. That said, in the sweet cornbread category, I often find myself making the Kenny Rogers recipe: http://www.menwholooklikekennyrogers....
                    (I think it's just because of the amusement of making Kenny Rogers muffins, and not because I think they're the greatest-- the sweetness can be good with a really really spicy chili, though)

                    1. I use a 10" cast Iron skillet for my corn bread, no sugar. 2 tbsp of lard. in the oven at
                      425* for ten minutes before the batter goes in. cook for25 minutes. I also use buttermilk.
                      there is nothing like a big glass of cold buttermilk and a piece of cornbread. it comes
                      out nice and crispy. pinto beans and fried potatoes with onions just love it.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bigjimbray

                        This sounds like my recipe. I make a cornmeal mush with boiling water and let it cool, while I heat the cast iron pan in the oven.

                        It's thin and crispy on the edges, moist inside so long as you don't overbake it. Also makes great cornsticks; I inherited by granmother's cast iron corn stick pans and her 10" skillet, all perfectly smooth and seasoned. Personally, I think they're the secret to great cornbread.

                        1. re: amyzan

                          i love the sound of both of these but could you share what the actual 'cornmeal mush' recipe would be. cornmeal, buttermilk, and?

                          1. re: ben61820

                            Put a kettle on to boil. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 1/3 c. boiling water over 1/3 c. yellow cornmeal (not too fine, stoneground is good) and beat with a whisk until most of the lumps are gone. Put a heaping tablespoon of bacon drippings or 4 tsp. butter or oil in a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and set in preheated oven. Mix together 2/3 c. yellow cornmeal, 2 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. When the mush is cool enough to touch (doesn't have to be room temperature,) whisk in 3/4 c. buttermilk and one egg. Pour the wet into the dry and whisk just to combine. (A few small lumps are fine.) Remove the hot pan from the oven and pour in the batter, and return to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes and serve hot in wedges. (If you bake this in cornstick pans, it only takes about 10 minutes, so watch them carefully.)

                            1. re: amyzan

                              thanks so much for the recipe, imma make it tonight prolly. tellyou how it turns out.

                      2. I use Indian Head stone ground white corn meal. It is a very simple recipe. Since it usually just the 2 of us I bake mine in a smoking hot cast iron skillet iin which i have rendered 2 Tbs. lard

                        Preheat oven and skillet with lard in it to 450 F

                        1C meal mixed with 2 tsp. baking powder ( I use Rumford)
                        1/2 tsp. salt
                        1 egg beaten with 3/4 C. milk.

                        Mix the dry together and when ready to bake pour in the egg-milk mixture when the skillet and fat are hot. Bake about 20 mins.

                        If you want to use buttermilk in place of regular add 1/4 tsp. baking powder to the dry ingredients.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Candy

                          wonderful Candy - i love to see these basic, simple, delicious recipes. nice and simple usually makes the best tasting recipes. people are many times surprised at how the flavor of an actual ingredient shines through in recipes like these. so, in this case, people might be blown away by the flavor of corn rather than a convoluted mix of sugar, wheat flour, corn, etc. also, i could never understand why CORNbread recipes call for MORE wheat flour than cornflour...

                          1. re: ben61820

                            Thank you it is the way my family has always made it. What makes it really good is the Indian Head cornmeal. I know you can get it from Amazon, it is stocked in a lot of stores that cater to the Hspanic market. Anson Mills would make a good stoneground too. The Indian Head is from Maryland and is very fine. Keep it chilled, it can go off.

                        2. No "mixes"....not even Martha White because it contains flour.
                          That being said, no flour. I usually buy Indian Head (I live in Maryland).
                          I prefer white corn meal but yellow is OK.
                          I never ever add sugar. Never.
                          I don't like cakey cornbread.
                          Bacon drippings are the best to use for fat but I usually use melted Crisco.
                          I like to use buttermilk powder sometimes.
                          I use 2% milk just because thats what we keep on hand.
                          Chopped bacon, jalapeno peppers are about all I ever add.
                          I use a Lodge sectioned cast iron cornbread pan - great crust on all sides of each piece
                          I always pregrease the pan and let it heat at 475 degrees while mixing batter.
                          I want to hear a sizzle when I pour the batter into the pan.
                          When I put the filled pan back into the oven, I cut the temp to 425

                          1. White Lily makes THE best cornmeal.

                            However, if you don't live in the South, it's hard to get. Indian Head is an okay substitute, but, honestly, WL is tops.

                            Maybe you can find it on Amazon...?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: cussbucket

                              I buy a few bags whenever I drive to my hometown in KY, then freeze it. It's very expensive here, which can't be justified by the freight. I think it just doesn't turn over very quickly in the Midwest, which is why you pay $5 for a few pounds of cornmeal.

                              1. re: cussbucket

                                White Flour for me Indian Head Cornmeal. No White Lily on Amazon but Indian Head yes. Luckily I can by both locally in S.C. Indiana

                                1. re: Candy

                                  Weisenberger cornmeal is common in central KY, and I recommend it.

                              2. I made this for Thanksgiving and served it for dessert.

                                Mix a yellow cake mix and a Jiffy corn bread type mix according to box instructions, then mix together and bake as you would a 13x9x2 cake. Very sweet but addictive with honey butter.

                                1. I'm obviously from Boston because I like the Durgin Park recipe but I agree that it's more a corn cake than a corn bread.


                                  1. I'm a native Tennessean. Martha White has always been our preferred cornmeal, although in recent years I've changed to stone ground whole cornmeal and now prefer it. The cornmeal must be prepared in cast iron and the fat has to be bacon grease -- every home I've ever lived in had a can that we used to store the drippings from frying bacon so that it could be reused for cornbread and other seasoning. Our cornbread never has sugar added. However, corn light bread, as it is/was called did have sugar and was considered more of a dessert or novelty. As it turns out, the bacon fat is much better for us than the transfats that the old Crisco had (I understand Crisco has changed their ingredients in recent months.)

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TNExplorer

                                      yo TNE, i wholeheartedly agree with you about the nutritional aspects of pork fat. i would rather use the whole and natural rendered fat from a healthily-raised animal than the chemically altered fats from some vegetable sources. good to hear good sense on these boards.

                                    2. Thanks TNExplorer... I've been looking for a reason to switch back to bacon grease : )