Friday, January 25, 2013

Variations on Cornbread

Cornbread is generally thought of as a Southern thing. So, being that I grew up out West and now live in New England, I am not going to claim to be an expert on "Traditional Southern-Style" cornbread. But I will provide links to some great Southern Cornbread recipes from other bloggers, as well as my own recipe here.

Cornbread is one of those things that is SO easy to make from scratch, the trick is finding a recipe you like. I searched and searched, making recipes from the back of the cornmeal bag, recipes from various cookbooks, and recipes from the Lodge Cast Iron website (a site a recommend if you love cooking with Cast Iron as I do.) In the end I made up my own recipe, which was kind of a hodge-podge of a bunch of others I had tried.

I adore cornbread and to me there is not just ONE way to make it. I love to taste all the different variations people make. For me it is like a good chili (which of course goes great with cornbread) - Chili is one of those foods where there are SO many different ones, you cannot pin down just one and say this is the only way to make good chili. Cornbread is the same way - it has so many great variations.

I only have one "rule" that I always follow regarding cornbread: Bake your cornbread in CAST IRON. As I gathered recipes from other cooks for this post, I was happy to see that many of them agreed with this rule. For my small family, I use a little mini-skillet (see pic below), and I like that the pieces come out thick.

Another tip is to preheat your cast iron skillet in the oven until it gets hot. Then add a little oil, crisco, or (if you want to be really flavorful) bacon grease and let it melt before adding your batter. DO NOT ever use non-stick cooking spray in cast iron. Non-stick cooking spray leaves a residue which can only be washed off with soap, and that is a no-no for your cast iron pans.
Here are some great cornbread recipes from my
fellow food bloggers:
Jackie at Syrup and Biscuits shares a wealth of Cornbread
history with her recipe for Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
 Mary at Deep South Dish has a great recipe for Buttermilk Sour Cream Cornbread
Suzanne Renee Covey shared her recipe for Johnny Cake:
In a bowl, 2 T soft butter, 1/2 t salt, 4 T sugar, 1 egg (slightly beaten), 1 t baking soda.
Mix well. Add 1 cup buttermilk, mix. Add 1 cup flour and 3/4 cup cornmeal. Mix well and bake in round pan for 20 mins (or until golden brown) at 400 degrees.
My own easy recipe is as follows:
1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal
3/4 Cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon honey or real maple syrup
Optional: 2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1/4 Cup creamed corn
1/2 Cup Buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees with the cast-iron skillet inside. You can use a small 6" skillet for four thick servings, or a larger skillet (8" or 10") for thinner servings. When the oven is preheated and the pan is very hot, pull it out and drop in 1 Tablespoon of Oil, Crisco, or Bacon Grease until melted. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon.

Pour batter into the skillet and put it back in the oven. Depending on how thick your cornbread is (which pan size you use) it will take 20-25 minutes until it is set and turning golden. Test it with a toothpick in the center. Serve while warm with honey and butter.

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