Recipe of the Week, January 27: Cornbread
Native Americans were using ground corn (maize) for food thousands of years before European explorers arrived in the New World. European settlers, especially those who resided in the southern English colonies, learned from natives -- "Indians" such as Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek -- the original recipes and processes for corn dishes, and soon they devised recipes for using cornmeal in breads similar to those made of grains available in Europe. Cornbread has been called a "cornerstone" of Southern cuisine.
Cornbread was popular during the Civil War because it was very cheap and could be made in many different forms-high-rising, fluffy loaves or simply fried (as unleavened pone, corn fritters, hoecakes, etc.)
Types of cornbread
Cornbread is a popular item in soul food enjoyed by many people for its texture and scent. Cornbread can be baked, fried or, rarely, steamed. Steamed cornbreads are mushy, chewier and more like cornmeal pudding than what most consider to be traditional cornbread. Cornbread can also be baked into corn cakes.
Cornbread is a common bread in United States cuisine, particularly associated with the South and Southwest, as well as being a traditional staple for populations where wheat flour was more expensive. In some parts of the South it is crumbled into a glass of cold buttermilk and eaten with a spoon, and it is also widely eaten with barbecue and chili con carne. In rural areas of the southern United States in the mid 20th century cornbread, accompanied by pinto beans (often called soup beans) was a common lunch for poor children. It is still a common side dish, often served with homemade butter, chunks of onion or scallions. Cornbread crumbs are also used in some poultry stuffings; cornbread stuffing is particularly associated with Thanksgiving turkeys.
Northern and Southern cornbread are different because they generally use different types of corn meal and varying degrees of sugar and eggs. A preference for sweetness and adding sugar or molasses can be found in both regions, but saltier tastes are sometimes more common in the South, and thus favor the addition of frying the bread with such additions as cracklins. Sometimes, cornbread is crumbled and served with cold milk similar to cold cereal. In Texas, the Mexican influence has spawned a hearty cornbread made with fresh or creamed corn kernels, jalapeño peppers and topped with shredded cheese.
Skillet-fried or skillet-baked cornbread (often simply called skillet bread or hoecake depending on the container in which it is cooked) is a traditional staple of rural cuisine in the United States, especially in the South. This involves heating bacon drippings, lard or other oil in a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron skillet in an oven, and then pouring a batter made from cornmeal, egg, and milk directly into the hot grease. The mixture is returned to the oven to bake into a large, crumbly and sometimes very moist cake with a crunchy crust. In addition to the skillet method, such cornbread also may be made in sticks, muffins, or loaves.
A slightly different variety, cooked in a simple baking dish, is associated with northern US cuisine; it tends to be sweeter and lighter than southern-style cornbread; the batter for northern-style cornbread is very similar to and sometimes interchangeable with that of a corn muffin. A typical contemporary northern U.S. cornbread recipe contains half wheat flour, half cornmeal, milk or buttermilk, eggs, leavening agent, salt, and usually sugar, resulting in a bread that is somewhat lighter and sweeter than the traditional southern version. In the border states and parts of the Upper South, a cross between the two traditions is known as "light cornbread."
Corn pone (sometimes referred to as "Indian pone") is a type of cornbread made from a thick, malleable cornmeal dough (which is usually egg-less and milk-less) and baked in a specific type of iron pan over an open fire (such as a frontiersman would use), using butter, margarine, or cooking oil. Corn pones have been a staple of Southern cuisine, and have been discussed by many American writers, including Mark Twain. In the Appalachian Mountains, cornbread cooked in a round iron skillet is still referred to as a "pone" of cornbread.
Hot water cornbread
Cooked on a rangetop, one frying method involves pouring a small amount of liquid batter made with boiling water and self-rising cornmeal (cornmeal with soda or some other chemical leavener added) into a skillet of hot oil, and allowing the crust to turn golden and crunchy while the center of the batter cooks into a crumbly, mushy bread. These small (3-4" diameter) fried breads are soft and very rich. Sometimes, to ensure the consistency of the bread, a small amount of wheat flour is added to the batter. This type of cornbread is often known as "hot water" or "scald meal" cornbread and is unique to the South.
Pouring a batter similar to that of skillet-fried cornbread, but slightly thinner, into hot grease atop a griddle or a skillet produces a pancake-like bread called a jonnycake. This type of cornbread is prevalent in New England, particularly in Rhode Island, and also in the American Midwest and the American South. It probably derives from the hoecake, made simply of liquid and cornmeal roasted in a patty on a piece of flat metal such as the blade of a hoe.
This is the recipe my mother gave me when I got married.
Granny's Corn Bread
1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ cups white cornmeal
½ cup yellow cornmeal
¾ cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon honey
1 ¼-1 ½ cups buttermilk
Heat oven to 350. Put butter and oil in cast iron skillet or heavy pan and
place in oven to heat. Mix dry ingredients together. Add rest of
ingredients and mix together. Add hot butter and oil, stir to mix. Bake
for 28-32 minutes or until top is browned medium.
You know I don't use a recipe for corn bread or biscuits, just judge how
many people you cook for and adjust accordingly. So this is as
accurate as I can remember. I love you and hope your marriage is
This sweet cornbread is from Disney's Wilderness Lodge and the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. I usually make it in a muffin tin and freeze some of them for later.
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tblsp baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
Heat oven to 375 F. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add beaten eggs along with milk and vegetable oil. Use a whisk to stir mixture, mixing only enough to incorporate the elements. Pour batter into baking pan that has been coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Cut in wedges and serve.
Do you like cornbread? Do you make it from scratch or use a quick mix? What do you serve it with?