Southern AF Cornbread

There are people out there making cornbread for the holidays with sugar and flour. One woman even said on Facebook that she uses Jiffy Cornbread mix to make cornbread dressing.

Some folks just want to watch the world burn.

It’s easy to be critical of other people’s food choices, but I find it helpful to remember that not everyone grew up with the advantages I have, and just don’t know any other way. In light of this, and wanting to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, I have decided to share my Southern AF cornbread recipe that uses neither flour nor sugar with the world. And if it matters to you, It’s gluten free,

This is everyday cornbread. This is why I keep a jug of buttermilk in the fridge. (If you don’t have any other use for buttermilk, you can buy powdered buttermilk in the baking aisle of your store, which keeps forever).

I will be the first to say there are other recipes out there – especially hot water cornbread made when money is tight and buttermilk is a stretch, but I don’t particularly enjoy it, so we will talk of it another day. This is the perfect thing to serve with pinto beans. In fact, growing up beans and cornbread were practically one word.

What you need:

1 cup cornmeal. (Now, white is traditional down here, but yellow is easier to get, and I can’t tell a taste difference. I can tell you that you can fancy this up with using stone ground meal here, but it’s real good if you use generic yellow meal from the grocery store, too.)

1 tsp baking powder. (Some people put more to make it rise more, but I like a denser bread.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk (If you don’t have any buttermilk, you can make do by adding two tablespoons of lemon juice to a cup of milk and letting it sit out about 15 minutes. You just need an acid to react to the baking powder.)

1 large egg

2 TBS butter, margarine, or bacon drippings (Honestly, they all work about the same. Follow your budget here. We tend to use butter, because we don’t keep margarine in the house.)

1 8 to 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet (I mean, if you are not at a place in your life where someone loves you enough to have given you a cast iron skillet and taught you how to care for it, you could use a cake pan, but it will crust up better in a cast iron skillet.)

What you do:

Preheat the oven to 450.

Put butter in the skillet, put skillet in the oven.

Then mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add egg and buttermilk to the dry stuff, and mix until the batter just has an even consistency. Don’t overmix this – it isn’t cake. Use a spoon, not a blender.

Remove skillet (be careful, it’s hot!), swirl the melted butter all over the skillet, then pour the melted butter into the batter.

Pour batter into the skillet, and jiggle it to evenly distribute the batter.

Put it in the oven and feel morally superior.

It will be done when golden brown on top, the sides are coming away from the side of the skillet, and a knife blade comes out dry from the center.

An 8-inch skillet takes about 20 minutes, a 10 inch one about 17.

We just cut it into wedges and serve it from the skillet – when we were growing up, momma would invert it on a plate and serve it upside down, which bothered me in ways I cannot fully describe. But you do you.

Further notes:

This is a basic, make 30 minutes before supper, all purpose cornbread. This is also good dressing cornbread, if you are making chicken and dressing, but you will want to make it the day before so it can dry out for that. I have, on occasion, added two tablespoons of sugar to this and made muffins with it to save my marriage. Other ways to fancy it up involve adding a half cup of shredded cheese, a handful of frozen corn kernels, or a small can of green chiles. But don’t go too close to the sun here: This is working people’s food.

3 thoughts on “Southern AF Cornbread”

  1. You really need to consider writing and downhome Southern working persons cookbook. This was a joy to read.

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