HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Small batch cornbread recipe

andabien Oct 27, 2013 10:02 AM

Does anyone have a good basic recipe for a small batch, say 1/2, of cornbread. I'm a single guy and don't eat that much, so I don't want to make a full batch. There's nothing like fresh cornbread, and heating up old cornbread just isn't the same. I prefer to use an 8-inch cast iron skillet.

I tried just cutting all the ingredients for a full batch down by half, but that seemed to come out too dry. I had to put in much more buttermilk than 1/2 would indicate. I think there is something about the chemistry of baking that I'm not getting.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. y
    youareabunny RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 10:12 AM

    You are exactly right. You can't just scale a recipe up or down when baking as you can cooking.

    I am in the same boat as you, I cook for either myself or my boyfriend and I. I've actually had plenty of success baking when scaling down a metric recipe. I'd rather risk a slightly dry, wet, dense etc baked good than to have the perfect one come out that will add inches to my belly :). Luckily, pretty much everything has turned out well.

    I have not tried either of these recipes but the reviews seem good



    Usually you can google "recipe ______ for two" and you'll get some good results.

    3 Replies
    1. re: youareabunny
      paulj RE: youareabunny Oct 27, 2013 10:41 AM

      The proportions in that 'cornbread-for-two' are not very different from a regular recipe (say from Joy of Cooking).

      When scaling baking recipes there are 2 different issues:

      - measuring of the ingredients for the batter

      - scaling baking pans and times

      Especially with quick breads, a batter is a batter, regardless of whether it makes 2 cups or 10. There's not much chemistry going on at this stage.

      But it makes a big difference whether you bake it as 'corn sticks', muffins, shallow cake, or deep cake. At this stage, heat transfer and evaporation are major processes, and they are sensitive to surface area to volume ratios.

      1. re: paulj
        youareabunny RE: paulj Oct 27, 2013 11:14 AM

        Scaling for a quick bread isn't as difficult as other baked items. His problem very well could've been vessel.

        1. re: youareabunny
          pine time RE: youareabunny Oct 28, 2013 07:54 AM

          When I make 1/2 a recipe of cornbread, I use either cupcake pans (regular or mini) or a loaf pan. Of course, there's not enough batter for the height of a loaf pan, but the 4" width is perfect for 1/2 a recipe.

    2. p
      pine time RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 10:16 AM

      There's another thread about Jiffy products; their cornbread (small box) is decent, so that might be an option. I make it in mini cupcake pans (no liners, so the outer bits are nice and crispy). Just the 2 of us, and even though we love cornbread, there are leftovers, which I freeze.

      That said, I've had success with the cornbread recipe (just 1/2) from the Alber's cornmeal box.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pine time
        gmm RE: pine time Mar 26, 2014 09:00 PM

        I bake pretty much everything from scratch, but I always keep a box of JIffy on hand. I like to add some melted butter or a spoonful of sour cream to the batter to keep it moist, and bake it in a loaf pan.

      2. paulj RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 10:33 AM

        Is the problem with the batter being too stiff, or the final result is too dry?

        There's not harm in tweaking the consistency of the batter.

        If you stick with the 8" skillet, the half recipe will be thinner, and bake faster. And with more surface area to volume, it could be drier (more evaporation). On the other hand, it could give a greater proportion of crisp crust.

        You can also play with the amount of fat. Fats have a greater effect on perceived 'moistness' than other liquids.

        6 Replies
        1. re: paulj
          andabien RE: paulj Oct 27, 2013 11:00 AM

          The batter was too stiff, and didn't smooth out very well as it cooked. The final result was slightly dry. An increased amount of buttermilk seemed to solve that problem.

          I think I recall that too much baking soda will give a metallic taste, and too little won't raise very well. Mine tasted a little metallic the last time. Maybe a bit more sugar would fix that.

          1. re: andabien
            hotoynoodle RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 11:04 AM

            did you compensate and use a very small pan? a thinner wider bread would seem drier.

            most quickbread recipes scale well, but you may want simply to try a different recipe. some versions are supposed to be on the drier side. i prefer a moister cornbread and use a recipe that includes creamed corn.

            1. re: hotoynoodle
              andabien RE: hotoynoodle Oct 27, 2013 11:12 AM

              I'm using an 8" cast iron skillet.

              I'm trying to discover a good basic recipe first, then experiment with various additional ingredients. Do you cook it longer if you add creamed corn?

              1. re: andabien
                hotoynoodle RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 11:38 AM

                longer than what? ;)

                here is a link to the recipe i use. it's been awhile since i've made it and it's for a 9" skillet, but it's very delicious. however, if you're scaling anything to a half recipe you need a smaller pan than what you've got. or you could make muffins and freeze them.

                1. re: hotoynoodle
                  andabien RE: hotoynoodle Oct 27, 2013 12:37 PM

                  Didn't see the link...

                  1. re: andabien
                    hotoynoodle RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 02:08 PM

                    whoops! sorry.

                    google jane brody's mexican cornbread. there is a google books scan of it. the link is preposterously long to paste here.

        2. p
          petitgateau RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 12:46 PM

          Cooks illustrated corn muffins are great and actually freeze well (I double bag them in ziplock bags). I nuke one at a time for 20 seconds then put into the oven (at 300 or 325)
          until the top is crispy. Granted these are more the northern variety than southern cornbread (in that they have sugar). I also use corn flour which makes them moister.

          1. w
            wonderwoman RE: andabien Oct 27, 2013 04:05 PM

            this is a managable amount. and i love the texture of all corn meal.

            corn bread

            3 tablespoons butter, vegetable oil or bacon grease
            1cups stone-ground cornmeal
            ½ teaspoon baking soda
            ½ teaspoon baking powder
            ½ teaspoon salt
            ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (14 tablespoons) buttermilk
            1 egg, lightly beaten

            put the butter, oil or bacon grease in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and place in a 450-degree oven. heat until the bubbling subsides. while fat is heating, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. mix eggs and buttermilk, then stir into dry ingredient. mix in the melted butter or grease and pour the batter into the hot skillet. bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. let cool 15-20 minutes, then invert over a plate or cooling rack. serve warm.

            4 Replies
            1. re: wonderwoman
              andabien RE: wonderwoman Oct 27, 2013 04:28 PM

              This looks like what I'm aiming for. I'll certainly give this a try. I was only cooking a t 400-degrees and I wasn't using baking soda.

              1. re: andabien
                pine time RE: andabien Oct 28, 2013 07:57 AM

                Give the bacon grease a try, too--it adds so much flavor.

              2. re: wonderwoman
                onrushpam RE: wonderwoman Oct 27, 2013 04:46 PM

                This is very close to what I use. I usually use a whole cup of buttermilk, but I buy organic, real deal buttermilk that's quite thick. I also add just a tiny bit of sugar (not enough to make sweet corn bread), because I think it enhances the flavor. I use an 8-inch cast iron skillet, just as described.

                1. re: onrushpam
                  wonderwoman RE: onrushpam Oct 27, 2013 09:03 PM

                  love real buttermilk -- i've been using kate's, the by-product of their butter making. this is 1/2 of the original recipe, hence the 14 tablespoons of buttermilk. FWTW, one time, i didn't have quite enough buttermilk, so i made up the difference with plain, 2% greek yogurt, and it was fabulous!

                  next time, i'll try adding a bit of sugar.

              3. f
                fscurlock RE: andabien Mar 26, 2014 03:58 PM

                what if cast iron skillet isn't an option

                4 Replies
                1. re: fscurlock
                  hotoynoodle RE: fscurlock Mar 26, 2014 06:22 PM

                  plenty of recipes don't require a cast-iron skillet.

                  1. re: fscurlock
                    kariin RE: fscurlock Mar 26, 2014 07:15 PM

                    its the universe's way of telling you you need a 6-8 inch
                    cast iron pan. what's the reason for no cs option? i see them regularly @ yard/estate sales and have given to family and friends. The 6 inch are perfect for 1 person. Also makes a perfect fried egg.

                    good luck

                    1. re: kariin
                      alkapal RE: kariin Mar 26, 2014 07:43 PM

                      perfect for corn pone, too

                    2. re: fscurlock
                      paulj RE: fscurlock Mar 26, 2014 08:45 PM

                      To take full advantage of a cast iron skillet it has to be preheated, and have a layer of bacon grease. Pouring the battering into the hot skillet will help produce a crisp crust. Such a crust is most valuable with an all cornmeal recipe (with out the added binding power of wheat flour).

                      A recipe made with equal parts of cornmeal and flour works fine in a regular baking pan.

                    3. alkapal RE: andabien Mar 26, 2014 07:44 PM

                      this is for a regular skillet, but it is not thick at all. VERY tender.


                      Show Hidden Posts