Southern Cornbread Recipe
Where I grew up in Alabama, sugar in cornbread was unheard of...or referred to as "Yankee cornbread". Our belief was that cornbread was bread to accompany a meal, not cake, not dessert, not sweet.
However, I recognize that people have different taste and if you like sweet cornbread, by all means, put sugar in it. I just would not call it traditional Southern cornbread.
Our ideal cornbread is crumbly with a crunchy crust. For this reason we do not use eggs or much flour. Eggs serve as a binder that will impart a cake-like texture which we dislike. If you prefer a cake texture, go ahead and add eggs.
You should use a cast iron skillet for your cornbread. It's the traditional way to cook Southern Cornbread. Cast iron is inexpensive and it lasts a lifetime. You can pass it down to your children.
This recipe is for an 8 - 10 inch skillet and makes a thick cornbread with lots of soft insides. You should fill to within 1/2 to 1 inch of top of the rim. If you use a larger skillet you will get a thinner, crunchier bread.
- * 2 cups white cornmeal (use yellow if that's what you have on hand)
- * 2/3 cup flour
- * 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
- * 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (omit if you use regular milk rather than buttermilk)
- * 1/2 teaspoon salt
- * Dash of black pepper
- * 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk (more or less)
- * 3 to 4 tablespoons of bacon drippings (you can substitute cooking oil)
- 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- 2. Prepare the skillet by placing the bacon drippings in the skillet and roll the skillet or use a paper towel to coat the interior sides of the skillet with the bacon grease. Place the skillet in the oven while preparing the following batter.
- 3. In a medium size bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well.
- 4. Add about 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and stir.
- 5. Remove skillet from oven and slowly add about 1 or 2 tablespoon of the hot oil (bacon grease) from the skillet into the batter, stirring well. (Use a pot holder to pick up the skillet!!) The skillet and bacon grease should be very hot but not smoking.
- 6. Sprinkle the inside of the skillet with (dry) cornmeal and return to oven.
- 7. Watching the consistency of the batter, carefully add remainder of buttermilk while stirring. The consistency of the cornbread batter should look like a thick pancake mix. This may require a little more or less of the remaining buttermilk. If the mix is too thick, add more buttermilk. If the mixture is too thin, add more cornmeal.
- 8. Remove the skillet from oven and pour the batter in the skillet. Return the skillet to the pre-heated oven and start timing.
- 9. Bake at 400 degrees approximately 25 minutes. Time will vary according to the consistency of the batter you end up with and your oven. Watch the cornbread after about 20 minutes and cook until the top begins to brown.
- 10. Remove the cornbread from the oven and flip the cornbread over in the skillet (see tip below), then continue baking another 5 minutes (this will add a little more browning to the top...which is now on the bottom).
Tip: If you are using a skillet that is not well seasoned the cornbread may stick when you attempted to flip it over (step 10). Run a table knife completely around the inside wall of the skillet while gently shaking. This will usually free the bread for you to flip it over. Protect your hand...it's hot! If the bread does not come out easily, do not try to turn it over; just skip step 10. When you are satisfied with the color of the top of the bread, remove from the oven, allow to cool 10-15 minutes. Then try again running a knife around the edge, while shaking, and the bread should come out easily.
Southern Cornbread goes well with all vegetables but a traditional Southern meal would be Fried Pork Chops or Southern Fried Chicken with Black Eyed Peas, Collard, Mustard or Turnip Greens and Iced Tea