Great cornbread recipes
January 3, 2005 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Looking for great cornbread recipes … [mi]

I now have a cast iron skillet and I am looking to make some great cornbread. I have tried out a few different recipes in the past, but none of them were great. They tended to be dry and crumbly and tasteless, and so I have tended to use the Jiffy or Martha White mixes. I know I can do better, and would appreciate any recipes and guidance. I would like to experiment, but I have been overwhelmed by the number and variety of recipes out there, and I would like to narrow down the field before I begin. As a rule my wife and I tend to like sweeter-tasting cornbreads, and tend not to like recipes with bits of corn in it. Advice?
posted by Tallguy to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated (Jan 2005) had a good article about cornbread... go down to the library and check it out.
posted by xil at 6:49 PM on January 3, 2005

This will fix you right up: Alton Brown's Creamed Corn Cornbread
posted by Dean_Paxton at 6:57 PM on January 3, 2005

if dryness is a problem, try a spoonbread recipe.
posted by dorian at 7:00 PM on January 3, 2005

Durgin Park, the steakhouse in Boston, has excellent cornbread. But also make their Indian pudding, on the same page - it's my favorite dessert. Or second favorite, after sticky toffee pudding cake.
posted by nicwolff at 7:11 PM on January 3, 2005

I make the "Easy Corn Bread" recipe on the back of the Quaker yellos corn meal canister. It always turns out great. The few times I've tried mixes, they've come out tasting more like cake than bread. This is nicely sweet, but not overwhelming. Sometimes I use buttermilk instead of the plain stuff, just to liven things up.

A few cornbread tips: Be sure not to over-mix the batter; you just want to moisten everything and eliminate big chunks of dry flour. If you mix too much it gets heavy and rock-like. I also let it sit for a few minutes after adding the liquid to the dry ingredients, so that it can rise a bit more; I like my muffins light & fluffy.
posted by belladonna at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2005

Here's my favorite recipe for a simple sweet cornbread that doesn't contain bits of corn:

Sweet Cornbread
Yield: 8 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Shopping List (assuming you already have common items):
Yellow Cornmeal
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk (if you use regular milk, eliminate the soda - but it is best with buttermilk)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Melt the butter. In a second bowl lightly beat the eggs. Add the buttermilk, oil and melted butter to the eggs. Mix well.
  4. Combine the buttermilk mixture and the dry ingredients. Stir just until blended.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Greasing the pan by brushing with melted butter would be more traditional, but greasing with vegetable spray is fine. For a really nice crust use a cast iron skillet (preheated in the oven) instead of a baking dish.
  6. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

posted by RichardP at 7:29 PM on January 3, 2005 [4 favorites]

Martha Stewart's page of cornbread recipes is a good place to start. Her cornbread recipe is the best, and it's all natural with only flour, cornmeal, butter, milk, eggs, and sugar. Not to rag on RichardP's recipe, but stay away from oil-based recipes as well as so much sugar. You will corrupt the sublime texture of cornmeal. I always use Martha's standard cornbread recipe and get excessive compliments. However, i noticed that the recipe found online is little different than the one in her book. If you follow her basic recipe in the link i provided, just add a melted half-stick of butter to the egg/milk combination, which i would recommend to you.

To combat dry cornbread, there is very simple advice: fold in your wet ingredients into your dry as opposed to mixing or beating. Fold until the very first inception of combination, and then stop as soon as everything is just combined. The more you fold, the tougher the batter becomes. Any lumps you see will dissolve upon cooking.

Also, when you test your cornbread with a knife (towards the end of bake time), don't be alarmed if your knife comes out gooey. That means it's done. Trust me, it will bake more once you take it out. Clingy, runny lumps are not good, but gooey is very good. I find culprit to dry cornbread is that people don't realize that the finished interior should be dank and cakey like gooey brownies.

Also, definitely use a loaf pan if you want moist cornbread. The shallower you go, the more apt you are to have dry cornbread, as the increased surface and shallow depth will cook quicker and drier than if you make a loaf.

Also, use the top flour and cornmeal. I use King Arthur's flour and Indian Head stone ground cornmeal, both white and yellow. If you go with cheaper ingredients, you run the risk of having inferior bread.

Don't overcook, use good ingredients, lightly fold your ingredients, and use a deep dish are the keys to moist cornbread.
posted by naxosaxur at 7:42 PM on January 3, 2005 [2 favorites]

I must be a bumpkin because I've always loved Jiffy. A couple tablespoons of sugar, an extra 1/2 egg per box, and some chopped jalapenos and I'm a happy boy.

On preview, naxosaxur is absolutely right. Execution is incredibly important. I've found that most people overcook their cornbread. When you take it out of the oven, it should be gooey.
posted by yangwar at 7:53 PM on January 3, 2005

here's to good convenient timing for me; i typed up the following for a friend just recently. it's from a super old issue of southern living and has been tweaked a bit.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
5 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cornmeal, and sugar in a large bowl. Combine eggs, milk, and 1/3 cup oil in a small bowl; add to cornmeal mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon batter into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet coated with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and preheated. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Yield: 8 servings.

Personal note: My dad likes his with a single jalapeno from our garden minced. It's okay, but to me, cornbread should be slightly sweet and taste more of corn than anything else; as a compromise, I make a full batch with the regular recipe as well as two tiny cast-iron skillets' worth with half of everything called for in the recipe, the single homegrown jalapeno, and 15 minutes of oven time. The cast-iron and the preheating are the essential pieces to this recipe. Also important if you really want the best result (though this is still tasty without it) is whole-grain cornmeal. I cringe to say this but you can usually get a bag of this stuff at "Nature's Market" type sections of your grocery store or at natural foods shops.

I wrote the following note with it, which still sort of has helpful general info:
I post this to prove to J that cornbread can be fantastically delicious; he claims most southern-style cornbread is dense, burnt, generally disgusting, flavorless, and somehow simultaneously greasy and dry. Ugh. I believe him, but he ought to try this sometime to be soothed, ha. Using the proper old-fashioned cast-iron skillet (something that will likely outlive you, that you can pass down through generations!) and the preheating step, you should find this cornbread slightly sweet, fluffy, and wonderful. It's as good as cake really but heartier and less refined-product tasting. Yum. Especially good with fried chicken if you don't want to mess with (much flightier) buttermilk biscuits. My mother's big addition to the sugar component may seem over the top, but I promise her alteration yields cornbread that's still just barely sweet enough, really.
posted by ifjuly at 8:16 PM on January 3, 2005

My best heart-healthy tip: use a fat capable of withstanding relatively high heat without smoking (i.e. vegetable oil or shortening). While preheating your oven, put the skillet in there, too, with a very generous, heart-healthy amount of fat. By the time you get your batter done (this batter should include some buttermilk somewhere; otherwise just give up) the fat will be hot and heart-healthy. Pour some of that into your batter and fold it just a little. There should be enough fat left in the pan to generously coat the skillet and make a little heart-healthy fat lake to boot. Pour the batter into this pan, and be careful, becuase it will sizzle and stuff (due to its heart-healthiness). Bake par usuale. Good and good for you. There are all kinds of other healthy things you can do for extra points, like throwing some sour cream in the middle of the raw batter before baking, adding an extra egg yolk, et cetera, but . . . yeah, it's already gone too far. The South is fucked up. Good cornbread, though.
posted by littlegreenlights at 8:35 PM on January 3, 2005

I'm not familiar with the Martha recipe but as far as technique, naxosaxur nails it. The snooty free-range cornmeal really is worth the extra effort & money.

I almost always substitute buttermilk for milk when I'm baking. It makes for a more tender crumb. (If you don't want to go to the store for b'milk, add a little vinegar to regular milk -- start with 1/2 t. per cup.) However, this is not essential.

Ideally, you'd use bacon drippings for the shortening but we all must make accommodations to contemporary dietary restrictions, flesh-related squickishness, etc.

But what is with you people and your sweet cornbread?! My great-granny baked cornbread for us on a wood stove in a drafty old house in the middle of the godforsaken Texas panhandle, and she used no sugar at all. THAT was cornbread, you namby-pamby pups! And stand up straight! Y'all look like a pack of baboons. You, missy, that skirt is not decent. *sigh* I never thought the world would come to such a pass.
posted by vetiver at 7:08 AM on January 4, 2005

My favorite corn bread recipe.
posted by Caviar at 8:11 PM on January 4, 2005

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