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Oct 27, 2013 10:02 AM

Small batch cornbread recipe

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.

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  1. 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

      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

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

        1. re: youareabunny

          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. 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

        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. 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

          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

            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

              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

                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: andabien

                    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. 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. 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

              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

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

              2. re: wonderwoman

                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

                  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.