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Cornbread is not usually the star of the meal, but it’s always up for the supporting best role. The hearty bread is the best accompaniment to chili, ham and beans, and Thanksgiving. My nieces and nephew love it with maple syrup and I love it with just plain butter. I’m not southern at all, having grown up in Iowa. I would never claim to be the source for cornbread, but over the years, I’ve taken our family recipe and tweaked it just slightly.
Cornbread does not need too many adjustments. The outcome should be straightforward: plenty of corn flavor from a good cornmeal. The end result can really depend on the grind of the cornmeal. A slightly coarser grind, as opposed to a fine ground, will be less processed and retain more texture and flavor. This is the grind I prefer to use for my cornbread.
I’m not one to overly sweeten the batter. Honey or syrup can be added after it’s baked, so why make the determination for the consumer? In my opinion, a good cornbread needs to be ready to carry other flavors and not be like a dessert. In this recipe, just a few teaspoons of sugar balance out the cornmeal and help the corn flavor remain visible.
I don’t consider it to be a true cornbread unless it’s baked in a cast-iron skillet. Heating the skillet with the butter in the oven during the preheating ensures the skillet will be greased well. Also, the butter begins to brown and adds even more flavor to the finished bread. A well-seasoned skillet gives the bread a wonderfully deep golden-brown crust, which also adds flavor.
This is my go-to cornbread: simple and perfect!
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups stone-ground cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 ¾ tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk (or mix 1 ½ tbsp vinegar with 1 ½ cup milk)
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Add butter to a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and place in the oven while preheating. Once the butter has completely melted and browned, remove from the oven, 10-15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined. Pour immediately into the hot skillet.
- Bake until the cornbread is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before slicing.