Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken: The Heart and Soul of Southern Country Kitchens, by Ronni Lundy is one of my favorite cookbooks. It was one of the first that I ever bought and looking at it when I am melancholy can make me feel better. Simple recipes with hard hitting no-nonsense ingredients make up this book that is recipes, old photographs, stories and song lyrics that reference the very family recipes compiled in it. There are four entries for corn, four for cornbread, three for cornmeal and one alone for corn muffins.
The first recipe in the bread section is for Real Cornbread and the first line reads:
"If God had meant for cornbread to have sugar in it, he'd have called it cake."
Proof that I am a Northerner I like my cornbread a little sweet. I like a dash of brown or raw sugar just to back up the sweetness inherant in the corn. But you can do what you want just don't argue with me!
This recipe is too simple. The other day I made it for a breakfast date and it took about 12 minutes to put together & 40 to bake in my tempermental oven. Please note that depending on the all purpose flour you're using and if you want to push the limits and increase the cornmeal, you may need more buttermilk.
Please understand that a recipe is a guide. There are few "recipes" out there that are THE recipe, you know? If you substitute the butter with bacon fat, mmmmmm, or duck fat just know that you may get a cornbread that is so tender it will have the body of someone who has just had a two hour massage. Tastes great, but may not come out of the pan in a cohesive manner.
preheat oven to 350°
generously butter a 9” cake pan or various pans
mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, whisk to create a well in the center
in a separate bowl mix together the buttermilk and egg
melt butter (rendered bacon fat &/or duck fat can be substituted)
pour buttermilk mixture into the well of the dries all at once, mix this with a spatula/wooden spoon until almost completely incorporated
while mixing gently, add melted butter just until batter is uniform
pour into pan (s): batter should make the pan 1/2 to 3/4 full
bake until skewer or small sharp knife inserted in the middle comes out clean and sides have pulled away from the pan, approximately 30 minutes
when done baking, put pan on cooling rack for 5 minutes. then turn cornbread out of pan and cool completely before slicing
Cornbread will keep, unrefrigerated for about 4 days
Delicious eaten toasted with honey-butter, pan sautéed, with stewed greens, crumbled into soup, and dunked in cold buttermilk...
If you cannot get your hands on Anson Mills cornmeal (I ordered Yellow Coarse), please please find yourself a bulk section that has fresh organic cornmeal. I made this yesterday in a standard bread pan, but it's nice in your blacker than black cast iron skillet, (make sure that it has been sitting in the oven for a spell before the batter goes in, or it's the pan that the sizzling bacon just came out of), or cake pans. Really it depends on the ratio of interior to exterior you desire!