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Jan 15, 2009 10:41 PM

Cornbread [split from Boston board]

[We've moved this subthread from the Boston board, which started in response to this comment by applehome: "I agree with Striper, below - make it yourself in your cast iron pan. I follow the recipe on the Quaker Oats package, except that I even out the flour/cornmeal (1:1, instead of more flour and less cornmeal), and I leave out the sugar - or maybe add just a 1/2 tsp. The key is to pre-heat the oven and pre-heat the pan. Put a pat of butter in the pan before pouring in the batter - that crusts up the bottom nicely." -- THE CHOWHOUND TEAM ]

I think even that's a bit on the wimpy side for my tastes: stone-ground yellow cornmeal (coarse ground Goya, from the international aisle, is about right for my purposes) is the only kind that will do -- Quaker cornmeal is far too finely ground, and tastes little of corn -- and I personally go for about a three to one ratio of cornmeal to flour. Also, bacon grease for the pan lube (and, if we have enough in the crock, for the shortening in the batter as well!) is tastier than butter.

It's been weeks since I've made a pot of beans and cornbread, now that I think of it. I should remedy that this weekend.

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  1. I agree, Quaker is far too refined. Arrowhead mills makes a really nice stoneground one, and believe it or not Super88 used to sell one for real cheap. Stoneground cornmeal makes all the difference in a good nutty corny cornbread.

    12 Replies
    1. re: StriperGuy

      I know this doesn't help pommefrite find a place that sells corn bread but.... Anson Mills ( I know its a bit pricy) outside of Charleston S.C. will ship you fresh stone ground corn meal that will blow your mind. Amazingly the fresh ground corn meal tastes like.....well corn. I don't think it's available in retail stores.

      Nice recipes on their site too like.....Black Skillet Corn Bread --- sugar never entered its mind.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        This sub-thread is probably going to end up in Home Cooking, but I wanted to mention that Barmy has perfected a terrific cornbread that's based on a recipe in the King Arthur whole-grain cookbook. He's from the southwest, I'm a born-and-bred Yankee, so we definitely had to come to a compromise to suit both our tastes. I was willing to learn to love a non-sweet cornbread (although I will defend a place in the world for sweet corn muffins - just don't call that cornbread!), but I often found strictly Southern recipes to be not just pleasingly dense but kind of leaden, and way too crumbly. Since he worked out this recipe, Barmy's cornbread has been moist, just dense enough, and absolutely delicious.

        1. re: Allstonian

          OK guys - give. I hear the 3:1, but what else? (and TIA for sharing!)

          1. re: applehome

            The recipe I use also has buttermilk. Be happy to transcribe with some alterations so as not to vilolate copyright.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              yeah - throw it over in the home cooking recipe stuff.

            2. re: applehome

              I was going to simply post a new thread in Home Cooking, but it makes more sense for the Mods to just move this entire subthread over so that the recipe stays in context.

              First off, the three to one ratio is for my standard recipe: any cornbread recipe can be swapped to a 3 to 1 cornmeal:flour ratio. (Some cornbread recipes -- the sucky ones -- actually have that ratio reversed, 3 parts flour to 1 part cornmeal!) The cornbread of which Allstonian speaks, however, is an entirely different beast, inspired by the jalapeno cornbread loaves at one of the landmark dining establishments of my youth, Furr's Cafeteria. The starting point is the basic cornbread recipe in KING ARTHUR FLOUR WHOLE GRAIN BAKING, but I've tweaked it hugely, both in adding different ingredients and in streamlining some steps, so it's definitely an original recipe at this point.

              Purists might squawk at the fact that this recipe contains 1/4 cup of honey. I assure you, this is not a sweet cornbread: the honey is primarily there to provide moistness to counter the heat of the chiles and the graininess of the cornmeal and whole wheat flour. As noted elsewhere, my go-to cornmeal for this cornbread is the coarse-ground Goya. To give you some idea of its texture, it's the same cornmeal I make polenta out of. Also, you can buy the freeze-dried red and green bell pepper from Penzey's: I regret to report that fresh chopped bell pepper, which you would think would be better, adds a really unpleasant gumminess to the finished cornbread. If you don't want to bother to get the dried, eliminate the bell pepper entirely, but I think it adds a lot.


              2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal
              2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
              2 teaspoons baking powder
              1 teaspoon baking soda
              1 teaspoon salt
              2 cups buttermilk
              1/4 cup honey
              2 large eggs
              1/3 cup freeze-dried red and green bell pepper
              2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo AND/OR 2 tablespoons chopped roasted green chile
              1/2 cup melted butter OR lard OR bacon grease, or some combination of the three (you could use oil, I suppose, if you prefer)

              1. Preheat oven to 400 with an ungreased cast iron skillet in the oven as it heats.

              2. Combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, chile and dried bell peppers. Allow to stand at least 10 minutes so peppers can re-hydrate.

              3. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk to combine.

              4. Remove ripping-hot cast iron skillet from oven and quickly add one tablespoon bacon grease or butter to skillet, swirling quickly to melt. As quickly as possible, combine dry ingredients, buttermilk mixture and melted butter, stirring just to combine. Dump into skillet and return to oven.

              5. Bake 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan for about five minutes. Serve from pan in wedges, preferably alongside a nice pot of beans. Of, if you're like me and I know I am, crumble a wedge of the cornbread in a bowl and ladle the beans on top.

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                I have my mother's old corn stick pan but do this for an iron skillet also. I put a little bacon drippings in each receptable, then put it in the oven to heat. So it's really hot when you put the batter in.

                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                  I made this tonight and it was incredibly delicious. I did have to make substitutions, but it worked out really well. I did notice that the basic ratios are the same as with the modified Quaker Oats recipe we have always used - that is, 1:1:1 for corn meal, flour and liquid. What's different is that the liquid is buttermilk rather than just plain milk, plus the egg is halved and the rising elements are doubled. The results are markedly better, especially with the coarser corn meal and the addition of the peppers.

                  Anyway - I had no Penzey's dried peppers, so I fine diced some fresh red and green peppers, and sauteed them. I added some frozen corn towards the end - with enough cooking time to make sure that there was no liquid in the pan after it was all done. I also had no whole wheat flour, so I used regular King Arhtur flour. I didn't happen to have a can of the chipotles (normally, I keep some in the pantry) so I fine diced up some pickled hot banana peppers, (hey - it's what I had... obviously, a lot of heat was missing, but we didn't mind for this particular meal).

                  Anyway, the rest was per recipe, maybe a tad less honey than 1/4 cup. I let it cook for the 35 minutes and it was a darker brown on top than normal - I thought perhaps it had overcooked, but it was actually perfect. Perhaps the honey helps brown it more than otherwise. It wasn't burnt looking, just a little darker than my normal version.

                  I had made a pot of beans using a couple of the smoked butt or blade bones I cut out of a butt - I purposely trim them with lots left on the bone and dry-rub them with the same rub I use for my pulled pork before smoking. Other than the standard mirapoix and a couple of bay leaves, that's all that went into the beans.

                  My wife's Oklahoma family always just puts a piece of cornbread in the bowl - crumbling with a spoon as you eat it. This is significantly superior to the reportedly Texan method of crumbling the cornbread... (I had better watch out - I'm reminded of an article I read during the Bosnian war, where one person being interviewed, I forget whether Serb or Croat, said that the other side mis-brewed their tea. Apparently, wars have started over lesser things...) A nice big hunk of incredible cornbread, split and buttered, a bowl of beans and some chow-chow relish... I'm telling you - this Japanese-Jewish Boston boy was very, very happy. And the Oklahoma Woman was even happier.

                  1. re: applehome

                    This is a very forgiving recipe in terms of the add-ons: I actually have often made it with a couple heaping teaspoons of "hots," the chopped pickled chiles they always ask if you want on top of your Italian sub around here. But you might want to make it with regular milk instead of buttermilk if you use those: the vinegar from the peppers will give you about the same lactic tang as the buttermilk, and having both may be a little too sour for your tastes.

                  2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                    Barmy... looks great! what size skillet for best results?

                    1. re: jcr1

                      No smaller than the 10 1/4 -- this is a substantial amount of batter.

                    2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                      This has been on the to-make list for a while, and finally just remembered about it tonight. It was great! Whipped up a batch using Indian Head (our usual go-to cornmeal), and green chiles. This was a "back from out of town so let's see what's in the cupboard" endeavor, so we didn't have peppers and had to use powdered buttermilk--and almost had to take you up on the oil suggestion, until we realized there was some butter in the freezer... In fact, I thought I'd measured wrong because the batter was quite thin- but I guess that's why it turns out moist and light. I was dubious about the honey, too, but you're right, there's no noticeable sweetness to it. A definite keeper!

                      I can also definitely see how this keeps different cornbread camps happy-- I grew up on dense dry unsweetened cornbread (in a Yankee household!?), but also need to keep a Californian happy with moister, sweeter cornbread. This was definitely a good compromise :)

              2. Hi CH'ers,

                Does anyone have a recipe similar to the House of Blues Cornbread? Yes, it's sweet, so not a traditional southern style cornbread. However, I just adore how the bread is so tender, studded with nuggets of corn and infused with fragrant rosemary.
                I suspect a fair amount of butter, (or oil), eggs, as well as heavy cream are involved. I've been tinkering with the amounts in the kitchen, (even tried baking the cornbread in a bain marie) but to no avail. While I know they sell cornbread mixes in their store, I would prefer to make it from scratch).
                Any help is greatly appreciated!


                4 Replies
                1. re: sugarcube

                  typing 'house of blues cornbread' into the browser instantly gave this link:

                  1. re: paulj

                    Thanks for this Paulj. What type of 'corn muffin mix' do you think the recipe was referring to? It is difficult to find a good type in Canada.

                    1. re: sugarcube

                      I've had it so can't say from taste. I think they are doctoring it up enough that the details of the mix don't matter. Jiffy is a rather common mix that's on the sweet side. On the other hand some of the Southern style mixes (White Lilly) use a finer cornmeal, and lacks the recognizable 'grit' of cornmeal.

                      I think I'd use a recipe that has equal parts cornmeal (or not too coarse polenta) and flour. So if 4c of flour is about a pound, I'd use 1 c flour, 1c cornmeal, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, along with all the stuff the recipe calls for. I'm just wondering whether that is going to be too wet or not, given the amount of cream and eggs (3 1/2 c of liquid).

                      1. re: paulj

                        I've used self-rising cornmeal mix in the past, and much prefer Martha White to White Lily, because there's a lot less wheat flour in it. My regular from-scratch recipe is from "Miss Mary Bobo's Down-Home Cookin'," and it calls for no wheat flour at all. I make it plain for use in cornbread dressings, or "bumped" with a small can of cream-style corn, an extra egg, cheese and green chiles if we want something fun to go with the beans. And my favorite method for greasing the skillet is to put a big handful of cubed-up slab bacon in there and stick it into the preheating oven, pulling it out when the bacon's done and beating all of that into the batter, then all back into the skillet and let it bake.

                        One thing I've discovered is that as long as it's thicker than gravy and thinner than cookie dough, the batter WILL turn into edible cornbread. Just cook it until it's done, that's all.