Real Southern Cornbread

This special recipe came from Ann Parker, a Georgia native, who is now a food writer and restaurant reviewer for The Santa Cruz Sentinel. In her soft Southern drawl, which becomes more pronounced when we’re talking about food our mamas used to make when we were growing up, Ann explained, “The secrets to my ‘muthuh’s’ wonderful cornbread: stone-ground cornmeal, buttermilk and a cast-iron skillet. She generally uses Yelton’s or Tenda-Bake self-rising cornmeal, but our favorite is Perkerson’s, which is harder to find. The recipe can be halved for a smaller skillet.”

INGREDIENTS:

2 cup self-rising  cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
3-4 tablespoons cooking oil or melted butter
2 cups buttermilk, approximately
(*or add 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda to plain cornmeal)

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Coat a large cast-iron skillet well with oil and put it in the oven while preparing the recipe: it should be good and hot!

Measure the cornmeal into a medium-sized bowl. Combine the beaten eggs and oil in a separate bowl and mix lightly; pour into the cornmeal, add the buttermilk and mix well with a wooden spoon. The batter should be soupy:  thick but not sticky, with a definite “shine” to it (add more buttermilk until it shines).

Remove hot skillet from oven, and carefully pour the batter in – it should crackle! This makes a crunchy, delectable crust.

Turn oven down to 425°F and bake 40-45 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned and the sides pull away.

Let the skillet sit on a cooling rack for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving. The hot cornbread is wonderful with butter, honey, jelly or apple butter. Also very good toasted under a broiler for breakfast the next morning (if you have any left).

SOURCE: Recipe courtesy of Ann Parker’s mother, Cynthia Parker, Athens, GA

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