What’s Wrong With My Southern Cornbread? How to Make Great Cornbread
Guest Post by K. A. Miller
Southern cornbread is a great favorite in the South of the United States. It is also popular around the world. I have had request for my recipe from Germany, India and the Philippine Islands. I suspect that many of these request are from Americans living in these countries. But probably, not all.
You can go on the Internet and find dozens of recipes for Southern Cornbread. Unfortunately, most are not authentic Southern recipes. It saddens me that many people use these recipes thinking they are cooking the real deal when, in fact, they are not. So, let us first determine what is real Southern Cornbread.
The real deal:
1. DOES NOT CONTAIN SUGAR. It is not sweet, it is bread…not cake.
2. Is crunchy and crumbly. It does not have a cake texture.
3. Is white not yellow. (Uses white corn meal)
So, what’s wrong with your Southern Cornbread? You are probably making one or more of these mistakes. Here are some tips for making this old, classic favorite.
Many people prefer sweet cornbread. That’s fine, put sugar in it if you like it that way. Just don’t call it Southern.
White vs. Yellow
Most recipes you find on the Web call for yellow corn meal. I don’t know why. Every good Southern cook I know uses white corn meal. And I really don’t know the difference in the corn meals other than one is made from yellow corn and the other from white I suppose. But, the white corn meal seems to give the bread a better texture. And, yellow looks yukky to me. It looks too much like cake instead of bread.
Always use buttermilk in your cornbread. It gives the bread a better, distinctive flavor. If you do not keep buttermilk on hand (I don’t), you can make a reasonable substitute by mixing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup of regular milk. Allow to sit one minute before use and stir well just prior to use.
Always pre-heat your oven. Never put your cornbread in a cold oven. (flat, heavy bread). Pre-heat your oven to 400-425 degrees well before you start baking. When the top of the bread is golden brown, remove and flip the bread over to the other side and continue to cook another 10 minutes.
Always use a cast iron skillet for Southern cornbread. It gives the best results and…it’s the traditional way. Prior to pouring the batter in the skillet, put cooking oil (bacon grease is best) in the skillet and heat on top of the stove until the oil and skillet are very hot. Pour all but a couple of spoons of the oil in your batter, then sprinkle the skillet with dry cornmeal. This will keep the bread from sticking to the skillet.
There are more tips and techniques, but if you use these to start, you will be pleased with your real, authentic, Southern Cornbread.
Ken Miller provides the best, free recipe for authentic, Southern Cornbread on his website at www.olsouthrecipes.com as well as many other old Southern favorites.
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