Southern style cornbread is dense, savory, tender, and rich in flavor. However, cornbread can be dry and crumbly when improperly made. In order to counteract this possibility, I made a significant tweak/addition to my normal recipe: I added creamed corn. This was the first time I added the extra ingredient, and it definitely prevented the bread from drying out. I also use buttermilk (and sometimes a minced jalapeño) to add extra depth to this cozy side dish.
Cooking cornbread in a cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of hot oil encourages the formation of a crisp crust and prevents burning. Because cast iron retains heat well, you can take the cornbread from the oven to the table and serve. Any remaining portions are kept warm until people inevitably reach for seconds.
I can’t speak highly enough of the versatility of a cast iron skillet, but if you don’t have one, you can make this in a cake pan.
Cast Iron Cornbread
Makes about 12-15 servings.
I use a 12” cast iron skillet, but this recipe can be halved and cooked in a 9 or 10 inch skillet or cake pan.
3 1/2 cups corn meal (I used yellow, but white or blue are OK)
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (this texture is like coarse ground coffee)
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1 can (14 ounces) creamed corn
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 or 2 jalapeños, minced (optional)
- Preheat oven to 450F and put a 12” cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven.
- Whisk the corn meals (both fine and coarse grinds), salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda together in a mixing bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Then add the creamed corn and minced jalapenos.
- Add all the dry mixture to the wet and stir to combine. If the dough is too thick, add some more buttermilk or water. If it is too thin, add more cornmeal. The texture should not be smooth like bread dough or cake batter, but more like a loose mortar.
- Working quickly so that the pan does not lose much heat, remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. Pour in the 4 tablespoons of canola oil and swirl the pan to coat it. Then pour all the cornmeal batter (it will sizzle) into the pan and return it to the oven for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes check the dough, it should be golden, a little broken from the leavening that occurred, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. If you don’t have any toothpicks (I don’t), gently and quickly press down on the top of the bread, if it rebounds, the bread it done.
Reheating tips: One of the best things about this cornbread is the crispy crust; therefore, warming it in the microwave doesn’t do it justice. Here is a reheating trick to make it taste like it just came out of the oven. Heat a serving or two in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to just warm the bread through. Meanwhile, place a skillet over medium heat on the stove top. Once the skillet is hot, add a drop of oil, swirl, and place the cornbread in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute.