Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Baking Cornbread in a Wood Cookstove

When I was growing up, I could take or leave cornbread.  My mom used the same recipe that her mother Grandma Marian used.  Maybe the recipe was even Grandma Gladys's or from further back in our family than that.  I don't know.  While it was just fine, it wasn't my favorite recipe for cornbread.

I remember enjoying the cornbread that was served in school lunch, though, and I mentioned that to Phyllis, a family friend and now one of the ladies who comes in to help with the Monday Market baking here in the summer.  Years ago, Phyllis invited me over for supper on a night when she was serving her family cornbread, and her recipe was just what I was looking for!

Phyllis has graduated to a cornbread recipe that she says is even better than this one, but I'm sticking with this version--which I've changed a little from the original version.  Here is what I do:

In a medium-sized bowl, place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 1/3 cup sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Whisk all of these dry ingredients together.

Into a glass measuring cup, put 1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk, 1/3 cup salad oil, and 1 egg.

Beat these wet ingredients together until well blended.

Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredient mixture and stir only until well combines.  You don't want to over mix at this step because that will make your cornbread tough.  Pour all into a greased 8" x 8" dark square pan.  

Bake in a moderately hot oven (400ºF) until edges are slightly brown and have begun to pull away from the pan and the center tests done when a toothpick comes out clean.

I find that pulling a pan of cornbread out of the oven of a woodburning cookstove feels somehow--what is the word? "nostalgic" maybe?--since we know that this was a staple on the supper tables of history.  I notice that our local Fareway sells cornbread alongside the other bakery goods, but I haven't dared try it.  For one thing, I know that homemade cornbread does not keep well at all, so I figure there must be all manner of preservatives in what they sell at the grocery store.  Besides, this is not a difficult recipe, and I don't think anything could come close to the flavor of it fresh out of the oven.  

When I was growing up, cornbread was served with white corn syrup or molasses.  This is not my preferred method of serving it, however.  Stay tuned for the next post to see how I like to eat mine!


  1. Jim,

    I had no idea one could buy cornbread in the bakery section. What a country!

    Many years ago, on an online forum, someone was singing cornbread's praises. She wrote, "I love it with blackstrap. I love it with honey. I love it with chili. I love it with beans. I love it as a sandwich bread. I love it with eggs in the morning. (like really firm grits) I love it with blackberries.
    But I really love it with sorghum the most..."

    Apparently, she LIKED cornbread! I found it most interesting, she "love[d] it as a sandwich bread." I always thought it would be too crumbly for that. Oh well.