C is for Cornbread
Living in the south, well, I suppose maybe living anywhere, people can become pretty argumentative about their cornbread. Oh. That's just me? Oops. Well, maybe I don't necessarily mean argumentative, I just feel my recipe should be the universal one that's all. It's all I've ever made. Does that alone make it the best? Of course not, but..... :)
Now, we are talking regular cornbread. Mexican cornbread or fried cornbread, is to me, something completely different. I've made those a million times as well. That makes sense, right? And by baked cornbread, I mean baked in a very well seasoned black iron skillet. the. only. way. Not in a glass casserole dish and cut into little squares...muffins don't even count. No sir-eee bob.
An iron skillet is key to many southern things. It just makes it better. Some of you may feel just as strongly with the making of chili. Or barbeque. Homemade hot sauce, etc. Your recipe, a certain pot, etc. Growing up, ours was always ALWAYS baked in an iron skillet. A nicely seasoned one. It gives it that little golden brown crunch. Just dandy.
A trick for how we've always done cornbread is heating that skillet up to almost smoking while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Then, when you pour the batter in that hot skillet, you hear that incredible sizzle. THAT'S how you want it. That's what gives it a great golden crust when you flip it out of the pan. It's just awesome. This cornbread is moist (my children HATE that word. weird) and sweet, with a little crunch on it. Keeps all of that butter from soaking in too quickly. Ha.
So today I give to you the top secret family recipe of SWEET CORNBREAD. Otherwise known as Pennsylvania Corn Pone. It feeds our family of five with a few slices leftover. Sometimes.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk (*see hint below)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (mom used good ol' shortening)
WHAT TO DO:
Preheat oven to 400.
Pour the vegetable oil into a well seasoned iron skillet.
Swirl around to coat the bottom and sides.
I usually go ahead and put it in the oven while it is preheating.
In a medium size bowl, that you'll be pouring very hot oil into
(I use a metal one), combine all dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine buttermilk with egg and pour into dry mixture.
Whisk until all dry ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
Five or six quick whisks should be good.
When the skillet is almost smoking,
carefully remove from the oven and immediately pour oil into cornbread mixture.
It should sizzle.
Set hot skillet down on a heatproof surface
and quickly and carefully stir hot oil into mixture.
Pour cornbread mixture into hot skillet and return to oven.
Bake 20-25 minutes.
To check done-ness, make sure the center is not runny
by inserting a toothpick or butter knife.
Remove from oven and let sit for several minutes.
To loosen from the skillet, gently run a butter knife along the edge.
Carefully invert a sturdy dinner plate on top of the skillet.
Using both hands and hot pads, flip skillet over -
hopefully transferring cornbread onto the dinner plate.
If it comes out in one piece, pat yourself on the back
and expect praise and high fives from all of your family.
If it doesn't, or comes mostly out, but left a bit stuck in the skillet,
you can easily use a spatula to scrape that out
and fill in the missing piece on the cornbread.
No one will even know.
Just pre-slice before any one comes in the kitchen!
It's not a big deal.
If you do not have buttermilk readily available - and I rarely do,
use regular milk (whatever milk you have on hand)
in the same quantity you'd use of the buttermilk,
and add a spoonful or two of white vinegar or lemon juice to it.
The vinegar seems to curdle it more, especially if it's whole milk.
Regardless, either will work.
We have done that trick for a million years.
Don't fret it.
This is so delicious and yummy with a good pot of beans,
homemade meatloaf, beef stew or most anything.
My hubby has even been known to eat a piece for breakfast,
and my grandmother ate leftover cornbread crumbled
in a glass of buttermilk (blek), but whatever floats your boat.
Sorry if I stepped on any toes. I DO have on soft shoes, if that counts.