Growing up in south Alabama, it’s nigh impossible to not have an affinity for cornbread. But not all cornbread is the BEST CORNBREAD! I remember cornbread that was like eating a cake of sand, others that were heavy, solid muffinish masses. Up north yellow cornmeal and sugar go hand in hand, or at least that’s what I hear…Down south we prefer white cornmeal, never, ever yellow cornmeal. I promise that it produces a totally different cornbread!
MY GRANDMOTHERS’ CORNBREAD
I had two grandmothers that made cornbread and made it differently. Mama Sanders, my well-bred, gentil grandmother, made a very moist cornbread with lots of eggs and cooked thin. She also made hot water cornbread that was fried to perfection and served with Durkee Sauce. Grandmama, my country grandmother with Appalachian roots, made pones of cornbread with crispy edges, and fried cornbread that were always a bit greasy for me. (We won’t talk about that time I broke her Jadite cornbread-making bowl…) She would also throw in a handful of cracklins’ from time to time. Lord have mercy, both grandmothers made amazing cornbread!
MY BEST CORNBREAD RECIPE
My mama also makes cornbread. She makes it almost exactly like Grandmama did, but occasionally she adds sugar. Perish the thought. This cornbread (with or without sugar) is what we’ll focus on in this recipe. It’s a pone of cornbread, deep golden brown on the bottom, golden on top with edges that are meant to be pinched off. My grandmama would always turn the pone out onto a paper towel on the counter. Don’t ask me why; I’ll need to ask my mama. My granddaddy would walk by and pinch off a piece of the crispy edge, which would incur a playful tongue lashing from his woman. But that pinch was the test of goodness. My cornbread is basically the same, except I add an egg, an ingredient surprisingly missing from the maternal cornbread. But what isn’t missing is a secret ingredient that confounds most people I tell it to.
TRICKS OF THE CORNBREAD TRADE
- The secret ingredient is mayonnaise. A warning to the prudent reader: DON’T SKIP THE MAYO! Mayonnaise is simply an emulsion of egg, oil, and vinegar or lemon. That shouldn’t be too worrisome an addition for most cooks, since oil and egg is already in cornbread.
- Use fine or medium grind white cornmeal. I use organic non-gmo cornmeal. (Corn is notorious for being genetically modified.) The cornmeal we use is from Alabama: http://mcewenandsons.com Tell them the folks at Bliss Cafe in Lawrenceburg, TN sent you! For more information about choosing pantry staples, get our FREE SHOPPING GUIDE HERE.
- Add hot water. I use buttermilk in my cornbread, but I make it soupy, as my mother says, with hot water, I mean real hot water. When we had a cafe, I’d use water right out of the espresso machine!
- If possible, let it sit for a bit. Let the cornbread absorb the liquid. If it looks like it’s not “soupy”, add a bit more water.
Here are a few DE-lish ideas to add to your cornbread:
- Cracklins (what’s left after you render pork fat, basically bacon-like morsels of goodness)
- Pickled jalapeños
- Fresh jalapeños
- Cheddar cheese
- Whole kernel corn
Hot cornbread with fresh butter and sorghum molasses.
Y'all, This is the Best Cornbread!
This cornbread recipe is the best, and it's easily doubled!
Author: Truly Blissful
Recipe type: Bread
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ cup sugar (optional)
- 1 egg (can be beaten before adding if desired)
- ⅓-1/2 cup sunflower or safflower oil
- ⅓-1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Very hot water (enough to make the batter soupy)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
- Add egg, oil, and mayo, but don't stir in yet. Beat egg into oil and mayo. Don't worry, it will work just fine.
- Add buttermilk and stir all ingredients to combine.
- Add very hot water, enough to make the batter soupy.
- Let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes. (optional)
- Pour into a greased iron skillet or a metal pan with a lip. I like to heat my iron skillet first. If you double the recipe, you'll need 2 iron skillets or a jelly roll pan.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cornbread. I like mine thin. It's done when you touch the top and it springs back.
- Turn out onto a plate so the bottom stays crispy.
Download our recipe card here
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