Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mama's Cornbread

Don't you want some cornbread? I thought so. Every southern food book I've ever read (and that has been a few, believe me) shares memories of their mama's cornbread. In the south, cornbread usually means unsweetened cornbread baked in a sizzling hot skillet. Super sweet cornbread baked in a pyrex pan was cake not cornbread. If my Mamaw had set a plate of that down in front of my Papaw he would have thrown it out to his hound dog. No offense to lovers of yankee cornbread but "real" cornbread is a serious thing in the south, impostors could be shot!
My Mama is famous for her cornbread. I love love love it and must have it at least once a week. Her crispy, buttery cornbread is one of the only things I have a deep craving for year round. It goes with everything, beans, soup, salad, butter, anything really. I make it for breakfast sometimes and there is never a crumb left. Now I make two pans of it so everyone can have plenty. Made with fresh ground cornmeal and flour, you can't beat it for a healthy quick bread.
I will now ask my Mama to look aside while I tell you that I have slightly modified her recipe to fit my cooking so it's not her exact recipe. Honey instead of sugar, fewer eggs and less butter. Okay Mama, you can look back. So get out your skillet and let's make a pan (pone as Mamaw used to call it) of cornbread.

The first step is to preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Set your iron skillet in there to heat up too. A hot skillet is the secret to good crusty cornbread. Measure a cup of flour, cup of cornmeal, 1 tablespoon baking powder and a teaspoon of salt into a large bowl. Stir it to mix all your dry ingredients together.

Enlist a handy kid to mix up 1 and 1/4 cup of milk, 2 eggs and 1 tablespoon of honey in a measuring cup or small bowl. If there are no handy kids, just beat it together yourself. All the same and you probably have cleaner hands. I hope so anyway.

When your oven and iron skillet are good and hot, set the skillet out on your stove and melt 2 tablespoons of real butter in it (Don't you like my square pan? It was Grandma's.). Pour the wet mixture into the dry and give it a few stirs, then pour the melted butter quickly into the batter. Stir it up to mix the butter in. Be sure to not burn yourself with the skillet, it's super hot! Pour the batter into the skillet.

Can you see what's happening? Look at the edge of the skillet and see how the batter is foaming up. It is searing in the hot skillet and that is what gives you the magical golden crust. Bake it for 20 minutes in your hot oven and then flip it out onto a big platter. Flipping it out of the pan is a bit of a trick, I still catch myself holding my breath every time I turn do it. Just have faith and go for it.

Then all that's left is to cut it up and serve wedges or squares of hot golden goodness to all the lucky people sitting around your table. You'll be glad you did.


Susan said...

I DO like your square cast iron pan from Mamaw, but I like your hand-crank egg beater, too!

Mmmm ... warm cornbread!

Stacy Furlow said...

Ooooo! Making me want to make my Mamaw's cornbread tonight!

Danelle said...

Homemade cornbread is the best!

Josh and Liz said...

Yum! Can't wait to try this! Making black bean soup later this week.