After posting the recipe for a lighter Northern cornbread, I got some feedback I wasn’t expecting. Namely, from readers informing me that cornbread wasn’t made with flour, only cornmeal.
I mean. WHAT?!
How could this possibly be? Mom made her cornbread with whole wheat flour. Every cornbread recipe I’ve ever seen includes flour. Why have I never heard of cornmeal-only cornbread?!
I scoured the internet for a cornmeal-only recipe, and came up empty. I consulted a friend in Kentucky who told me that cornmeal-only cornbread is a Southern thing (and she also told me I had to use buttermilk) so I searched for “Southern cornbread.” Every recipe had flour. So I searched for “buttermilk Southern cornbread.” All had flour. Desperate, I just did a generic “cornbread” search and yielded the same results. The only difference in the vast amount of recipes was the amount of cornmeal and flour, the type of milk used, and whether or not there was sugar added.
I remembered that my cornmeal sack had a cornbread recipe on the back so I consulted that. Score! It was called “Homestead Cornbread” and only called for cornmeal, but it called for regular milk and Carla had specifically told me I had to use buttermilk. She also insisted I top it with real butter. Carla is from the South and she knows what she’s talkin’ ’bout so I decided I’d better come up with my own recipe (and top it with real butter) to make her happy.
You know southern women. They’re all charming and “bless your heart!”…until you try to serve them sweet cornbread with whipped honey butter and then the fangs come out! Or so I imagine, based upon how heated the North & South cornbread debate can get. ;)
*Disclaimer: I apologize to any Southern women reading this. I was totally only saying that to amuse the Northerners. Please don’t bite me!
So I got to work and made us a big ‘ol mess of beans (I’m trying to talk like Paula Deen since I’m doing the whole Southern cornbread thang here), because that’s just what you eat with cornbread (or am I wrong about this too?), and baked up my version of REAL southern cornbread.
Until I made this, I was convinced that the sweetened, moist stuff I’d been making lately was an abomination and I should be ashamed of myself for stooping so low as to make something that you didn’t have to drown in butter to keep from choking down. That’s just how cornbread was supposed to be. Dry and unsweet. But now I can officially say (my apologies to the Southern folks) that I’m a true Northern cornbread convert.
Now, this stuff is wonderful if you do indeed slather it with a generous amount of (real) butter, and even better with some honey (I guess I missed the sweetness), but without them it is a little dry and crumbly. What do you expect? There’s no flour in it! But if you were raised on this kind of cornbread, and are looking for a recipe and discovered them hard to find, I’m going to include it here for you because I realize that folks are loyal (except in my case, apparently) to the foods they were raised on. And this one is especially good for crumbling over your beans, which means you can get your cornbread and beans in every bite! I love that. Oh, oh, oh! This one would also be superb for making cornbread stuffing. Mmmm….is it too early to start planning Thanksgiving dinner?
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder (such as Rumford)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs (unbeaten)
2 tablespoons canola oil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Add milk, egg, and oil and mix well. Pour into well-greased 8-inch square pan (the batter will come up high but don’t worry, it doesn’t rise much) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cut into rows of 4×3 to make 12 squares.
Per serving: 120 calories; 4.2 g fat; 17.4 g carb; 1.5 g fiber; 3.7 g protein
*Veronica’s notes: it’s important to use aluminum-free baking powder in recipes calling for more than a teaspoon, otherwise you will get an unpleasant metallic aftertaste. If I were to make this again, I’d bump up the oil to 1/4 cup to make it a little more moist. To make this with regular milk, use 5 teaspoons of baking powder and omit the baking soda.
Recipe source: adapted from the back of a Shawnee Best yellow cornmeal sack.