A wonderful elderly widow lady taught me to make cornbread. “The trick,” she’d say, “is to use flour AND cornmeal, so it’s actually bread.”
I found this recipe on the back of an Aunt Jemima cornmeal bag one day, and I’ve kept it because it’s so similar to the recipe she taught me (but it has actual measurements).
The cast iron skillet is essential to cornbread. When you preheat the oven, you need to have a layer of oil in your skillet. I put bacon grease in mine or simply drop a slice of bacon into the grease to give it flavor.
While the skillet and grease are heating in the 425° oven, mix 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 cup of fine cornmeal, 4 teaspoons of baking powder (that’s different than baking soda), and 2-4 tablespoons of sugar.
Now, why the sugar variance? Because some people like sweet cornbread and some prefer more savory. I use 2 tablespoons. it gives just a hint of sweetness to the bread.
After the dry ingredients are mixed, add the wet ingredients. I add the milk first, stir, then add the oil and egg. Whole milk will make the richest cornbread. We either use fresh milk from one of our cows or this milk from our local dairy.
Always use a fresh egg if possible. I will go to the chicken coop and get the freshest egg possible. It really does make a difference in baked goods.
Once the batter is ready, pull the skillet out of the preheated oven and pour the batter into it. Remember to remove the bacon if you used it.
The batter will fry on the bottom, giving it a beautiful crunchy crust.
Now you put it back into the 425°F oven and bake for 20 minutes.
When you take it out, it should have a beautiful dome and golden brown edges. You can insert a toothpick in the center to check for a proper bake.
Then melt real butter over the top.
Slice and serve! It’s best with a gravy to dip. We love cornbread with red beans or roast with gravy.