i love pretty much anything Southern and especially Southern food, with cornbread at the top of that list. it is pretty hard to find a good cornbread here that isn’t too sweet or filled with a lot of other things (cheese, peppers, etc.) this is my everyday cornbread that i make to do with soups or use for stuffing during thanksgiving. it is simple and unadorned, and ready to take on new flavors (split and toasted for breakfast with butter and maple syrup, or with a spicy chili, for example) but delicious enough on its own. i think part of its success is using a cast iron skillet as the cooking vessel. you heat the skillet up until the batter sizzles when you pour it in and creates a good caramelized crust and a tender crumb. cast iron is my pan of choice because it is so versatile. i have used mine to make pizza (using the heston blumenthal hack ), fry tofu, make pancakes, and of course, this cornbread. cast iron is also pretty much indestructible. once the pan is seasoned, it is just like nonstick. and it is so cheap compared to other pans! i bought a similar 10 inch sautee pan for 4 times the amount i paid for my 10 inch cast iron pan. yes, cast iron is heavy and requires a little bit more special care to prevent rusting, but this cornbread, which i ate hot out of the oven standing over the sink, is worth getting a cast iron skillet alone.
this was one of my first cookbooks that i bought in high school. it is kinda hippy dippy, but some of the recipes and techniques i learned from here i use all the time. and, because i am a big dork, i think that it is also a great cookbook just to read.
this cornbread is also very easy to remember, so after you make it a couple times, you dont even need the recipe in front of you.
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour. i used whole wheat, but all purpose is more traditional and will give you an even softer crumb
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1-3 tbsp sugar (i just used barely 1 tbsp because i do not like sweet cornbread)
1 1/4 c buttermilk (or use 1/2 cup plain yogurt thinned out with 3/4 c milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-4 tbsp butter (i just used 1 tbsp because i wanted to put lots of butter on top of my cornbread and it worked out fine)
preheat your oven to 375. make sure it is correct with your oven thermometer! most ovens are not calibrated and are off. mine runs about 25 degrees hotter than it says and this can definitely ruin some recipes.
whisk together all of the dry ingredients. in another room, stir together all of the wet ingredients together. heat your cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot. while this is happening, quickly and gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry. when the skillet is hot, melt the butter and swirl in around the pan. quickly pour in the batter; it should sizzle going into the pan. quickly put the skillet in the hot oven and bake about 25-30 minutes, or until the top of the cornbread is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.