Pie are Round, Cornbread am Square
I heard this ridiculous saying as a child, and I’m still not sure what it means. I suspect it has something to do with Pi, or the circumference of a circle. Either way, it has nothing to do with food or skillet cornbread. Poor cornbread. It has been battered and beaten (pun intended) for centuries. This southern staple has been fought over, and argued about more than politics. While, it is a cornerstone of southern cuisine, it can be found up north too. My only contention is that it not be sweet. Sweet cornbread should be saved for corn dogs. I like it to be crumbly, but not too coarse. I don’t want anything in my cornbread either. No thank you to chilies or peppers. Am I a purest? I suppose not. But, what is pure cornbread? I think it’s what YOU like, and not what someone else tells you.
Skillet Cornbread Questions
Oh, and there are a ton of questions. Let’s start with cornmeal. Some prefer Yellow and some like white. Traditionally, southern cornbread is made from white cornmeal. However, the finer the grind, the softer the texture. Some folks use eggs, and I think it adds structure and moisture. A lot of southerners insist on buttermilk. They say it adds an acidic “twang”. I’ll pass, thank you very much. Sweet milk is the only sugar I will add to my skillet cornbread. Flour or no flour? I like a little bit, because the cornbread holds together better, and is more tender. Oil or butter? While the butter adds flavor, oil is neutral. Too me, it enhances the corn flavor.
Just Make Skillet Cornbread
When it comes to cornbread, there are a few things most people do agree on. One of these is the use of cast iron. Put some bacon grease or butter into a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Place the skillet in the oven, and pre-heat the oven at 400 degrees. Yes, you want a really hot pan. When you pour the batter in the skillet it should sizzle. The fat browns the crust, and keeps it from sticking to the pan. Plus, the crust is what it’s all about. When making the batter, mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet in another bowl. Then combine the two. But, don’t over-mix the batter. Just incorporate the ingredients together. Then let it rest for about five minutes.
Classic Skillet Cornbread Service
Some people won’t like my version of cornbread, and that’s o.k. Northerners like it sweet, and cake like. Southerners are the opposite. But we can all make great things with our skillet cornbread. You could make hush puppies for that fish fry. You can create Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes. It can be adapted into corn muffins and sticks. Cornbread is great with chili and bean dishes. Try it with my Kil’t Greens recipe. Eat it with barbecue, and of course, use it for your Thanksgiving stuffing. My dad used to toast it, and put honey on it. Some folks even like it crumbled up in a cold glass of milk. There are a lot of different ways to make cornbread, and all I can really say is Vive la Difference!
- 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups White Cornmeal (Preferably stone ground)
- 4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1 1/4 Cups Whole Milk
- 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Butter or Bacon Fat
- Place the butter or bacon grease in a cold 12 inch cast iron skillet. Put the pan in the oven, and turn the heat to 400°.
- Mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until blended. In a smaller bowl, mix together the beaten eggs, milk and oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and incorporate until until just smooth. Don't over mix the batter. Let the batter rest for five minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the oven with an oven mitt, and place it on a medium high burner. Pour the batter into the pan, and smooth out with a rubber spatula. The batter should sizzle when it hits the pan. Bake in the oven for 18 to 23 minutes, or until it has a deep brown color. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Gently flip the pan over to remove the cornbread. Let cool five to ten minutes.