Making cornbread is not hard. All you need is a good recipe and the knowledge of a few tried and true techniques. So read on, because the information below is all you’ll ever need to know about making a beautiful pone of Southern cornbread. (Yes, we do call it a pone.)
BTW, I’m just going to say up front that I am from the South, so I make Southern-style cornbread. Southern cornbread is traditionally thinner and crispier than its regional counterparts. I’m not knocking Northern-style or Southwestern-style cornbread, mind you, but I was taught by my Southern Granny, and I’m pretty sure I’d get the switch if I deviated from her dictums. (And by switch I mean a metaphorical switch, which is a “good, stern talkin’ to”.)
A Few Tips For A Better Cornbread
- Use a cast iron skillet for the crispiest cornbread.
- Using vegetable shortening instead of oil will yield a better texture.
- Depending on how dense you want your cornbread, choose either fine, medium or coarse ground cornmeal. Coarse cornmeal will give your bread a stronger corn flavor, while fine ground meal will yield a lighter texture.
- Wait until the oven is completely heated before you begin to make your cornbread. If you mix your ingredients together to soon, the cornmeal will begin to soak up the moisture from the milk and egg, leaving you with either a soggy mess or a very crumbly cooked cornbread. Be patient and wait for the oven to heat before you begin mixing your ingredients together.
- You can add 3 tablespoons of flour to the recipe below to lighten the batter. When baked, it will yield a lighter, more cake-like texture. If you want a higher-rising cornbread, add another 3 tablespoons of flour. Keep adding flour, 3 tablespoons at a time until you get the result you want. I suggest a 1 to 1 ratio — for every 3 tablespoons extra flour, add an extra 3 tablespoons milk. But adjust milk accordingly to keep batter moist, but not wet.
- Go gluten-free by substituting ground corn flour for any traditional flour you want to use in your recipe.
- Traditional cornbread is a great addition to a vegetarian lifestyle!
- Sugar is optional. Traditional Southern cornbread omits it, but if you like it, include it. Add a tablespoon of sugar along with 3 tablespoons of flour to the recipe below and you’ll have a cornbread that can almost pass for dessert. Serve warm with butter and honey for a wonderful treat.
How To Make Cornbread:
Granny’s Southern Cornbread Recipe
an 8 inch cast iron skillet (or you can use a cake pan or 8 inch square pan, but be warned that you won’t get a crispy crust if you don’t use a skillet)
2 1/2 cups organic self-rising cornmeal mix* (recipe follows)
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/2 cup -(ish) sweet milk or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425. Put cold skillet into cold oven and let the skillet heat while the oven does. While the oven is heating, gather your ingredients together, but don’t mix the batter until the oven is heated. When the oven is hot, put the 6 tablespoons of shortening into the hot skillet, return to oven and allow shortening to melt and heat in the oven, about 5 minutes. Put cornmeal into a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and using a fork, mix with the cornmeal. Add milk in small amounts until the batter is mixed, and about the consistency of thick pancake batter. Add only as much milk as needed, up to 1/2 cup. Batter will be lumpy, but don’t over mix. Now, remove the skillet from the oven. It will be very hot. Carefully pour the heated shortening into the batter. It will sizzle and crackle. Working quickly, mix melted shortening into the batter just until incorporated, then pour the batter into the hot skillet. Return skillet to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until outside is crisp and golden. Remove from oven and let rest about 5 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or platter. Cut into wedges and enjoy!
*You can substitute traditional self-rising yellow cornmeal if you wish.
Organic Self-Rising Cornmeal Mix Recipe
Makes 3 1/4 cups
3 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups coarse ground organic yellow corn meal such as Bob’s Red Mill Organic Medium Grind Cornmeal
Mix all together well. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Use as desired.