I grew up on my mother’s and grandmothers’ Southern buttermilk cornbread, and I’m devoted to it. Southern cornbread has no sugar and is cooked in a cast iron skillet, which renders a lovely crunchy crust. You can eat it by itself with butter or apple butter, or you can eat it with beans or chili and spoon either on top of a slice.
This is another recipe that I’ve played around with. Many cornbread recipes call for 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup all-purpose flour. However, all that extra flour seems to detract from the corn flavor in my opinion. So I split the difference and I like the results.
If you do not keep buttermilk on hand (I usually don’t), you can make your own using white vinegar and milk. The ratio is 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of skim milk (minus 1 tablespoon). So for this recipe, I use about 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon of lemon juice. About 10 to 15 minutes before you make the cornbread, put the lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Add milk to the 1-¼ cup line and allow it to sit at room temperature.
[Updated January 2011.]
Southern Buttermilk Cornbread
- mixing bowl
- 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet
- 1½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg (beaten)
- 1¼ cups buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or bacon drippings if you happen to have any)
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Stir together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in mixing bowl. Add the beaten eggs and the buttermilk, stirring just until all the dry ingredients are wet. Do not overmix.
- Add vegetable oil to the cast iron skillet and place in the hot oven for 3 to 4 minutes. You want the skillet hot, but you don’t want the oil to start smoking.
- Remove hot pan from oven. Make sure that the pan is thoroughly coated with the oil, bottom and sides, then pour the excess oil into the batter and stir. Pour batter into the hot pan.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.