Monday, March 3, 2014

Another Salvo in the Great Cornbread Wars

Admit it, the War Between the States will never be over as long as there is cornbread...

...and tea, and vegetables - especially sweet potatoes. To see what I mean, watch this short video from Mark Lowry:

Did you catch what he said about the cornbread?

I'm from the north. I make my cornbread with sugar. According to Mark Lowry, that makes it cake.

Maybe so, but I enjoy my cornbread!

I also make it from scratch.

Yes, that's corn. Popcorn, actually. I said I start from scratch!

And the next picture is wheat.

The bowl on the left has winter wheat - Prairie Gold. When you go to the store and the bread or flour bag says "100% white wheat," this is the wheat they're talking about. It's a much lighter color than the Red Chief or another hard winter wheat.

The bowl on the right is soft summer wheat. If you've ever seen "whole wheat pastry flour" at the store - usually in one of those bulk bins - this is the wheat you're buying.

I use the Prairie Gold or the Red Chief for yeast breads, but I use the soft wheat for any baking that doesn't use yeast - and that includes cornbread.

This is the bad boy that turns all my grains into flour (or cornmeal). He's so powerful, it's scary! But look what he does to a cup of that soft wheat.

Fresh ground wheat, all ready for baking. I use it within 10 minutes of grinding - no vitamins lost in this process! (If there's any leftover, I freeze it for future use.)

So now we're ready to make cornbread - northern style!

I got this recipe from a bag of cornmeal back in the dark ages. (The dark ages was BC - Before Children.) Over the years I've changed it to suit us.

This is me, thirty-some years ago,
when this recipe was new.
Oh, how the years fly!
Jan's Corn Bread

1/4 cup butter
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or any whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup unbleached flour
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg

I use a 10-inch cast iron skillet for my bread, but it also bakes well in a 8" square pan.

Preheat your oven to 400°. If you're using an 8" square pan, put the butter in it to melt in the oven while it's heating up. If you're using a cast iron skillet, put it on the stove on medium-low with the butter in it.

In a large bowl (I use my 2-quart bowl from Pampered Chef), stir together the corn meal, flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.

In a small bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup, beat the egg, and then add 1 cup milk and mix them together.

Check on your butter. Is it melted yet? If not, wait until it is. You want it melted, but not sizzling (although it smells wonderful just before it starts burning).

Once the butter is melted, add the milk/egg mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing it all together. Next, carefully pour the melted butter into the bowl. Stir until it's all mixed in.

Now pour your batter back into your skillet or pan. See how the edges start cooking as soon as the batter hits the hot surface?

Put your pan or baking dish into the hot oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. I actually bake it for 18 minutes here in our higher altitude.

Once the edges look crispy and the top is beginning to brown, take it out of the oven. Let it cool about 10 minutes, and then serve.

This is great with butter and honey, served with some chili or bean soup!

And if you call it cake, I'll forgive you. But I love this cornbread!

By the way, for the record, I like my tea unsweetened (preferable hot), my vegetables steamed and buttered, and my sweet potatoes roasted and seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin :)

How do you like your cornbread?


  1. Oh, Jan, you cute thing.

    I use Jiffy. I never knew there were cornbread wars.

    I am so embarrassed.

    1. Jiffy? Oh, Tina, come into the light! Use whatever recipe you want, but make some real cornbread!

  2. hmm I'm not a cornbread fan - I eat it occasionally. I have a mexican casserole recipe that's topped with honey cornbread (buy a package and mix up) and my dad hated it- said it was too sweet and raked it off...sometimes I would eat cornbread with my mom's pinto beans. a coworker from mexico makes a sweet cornbread that's almost like a cake- I liked it pretty well- had pieces of corn in it!

    1. Not everyone loves cornbread like I do. I understand that.

      What I don't understand is that Texan compulsion to put stuff in the cornbread - jalapenos, cheese, chilies, corn.... You name it, someone will stick it in their cornbread! :)

    2. it helps a lot LOL! doesn't taste so much like cornbread then!

  3. LOL -- love Mark Lowry. Just discovered his comedy routines this winter and I've never laughed so hard! What a ham!

    Gorgeous picture of you, Jan. You look ready to take on the world!

    I haven't had cornbread and ever and ever. It's just not something I think about making when I'm cooking up chili. Plus, if memory serves me right, it doesn't really keep long so it's not a great recipe to cook for just one. I may have a chili supper over the March break if I don't think it will mess with my Speedbo goals. If I do, I'll make cornbread to impress my guests. :-)

    Oh -- and can I just say I'm in awe of your pioneer girl tendencies...grinding your own wheat!!!!!!!

    1. We got to see Mark Lowry in person once, back when we lived in Texas. $5.00 per person - can you believe that? But I've never laughed so hard!

      We had a cassette tape of his that we used to play in the car while we traveled. Who needs a DVD player when you can keep the kids in stitches with an hour of Mark Lowry?

      You'll have to make the cornbread, Kav. Either freeze the leftovers, or use it for bird food.

  4. Jan, I agree with you on the tea, but I'm taking Mark's side on the cornbread. Cornbread with sugar IS cake. Why would you want to eat cake with your chili? That's just wrong.

    Very cool how you grind your own flour. Overachiever. Then again, if I tried it and liked it/noticed the difference, I'd probably do that too. Of course, I'd have to find me one of those hulk machines like you have. Is he a noisy fella?

  5. Sigh. We'll have to have separate pans of cornbread, Mindy.

    I started grinding my own flour almost ten years ago, and I love it. I get so tired of stale flour - you know that smell when the whole wheat flour starts to go rancid? And whole grains are a lot easier to store. I stocked up a few years ago, and now that the children are adults and almost on their own, I'm not sure if I'll ever have to buy more :) Properly stored, it lasts for years. And years.

    Noise? About as much as a vacuum cleaner. Unless he's grinding corn. Then he complains a bit :)

  6. Oh, this is neat! My dear friend used to grind her own wheat flour and made us the most DELICIOUS whole wheat bread with honey. YUMMY.
    So, do your store your wheat before or after it's ground? And the corn? How do you store it? I would think the mice would just go crazy for all those kernels. When we first moved into this house ten years ago we had mice and it took a long time (and several rounds of securing the perimeter) before we became mice-free.

    1. I store all my grains before they're ground. The flour or cornmeal will go bad too quickly, but grain will store indefinitely. They've even found grain - still good - in pyramids in Egypt!

      I don't store mine in a pyramid. LOL

      I have 5 gallon food-grade plastic buckets with gamma seal lids. Fabulous. Here's a link that will explain how they work:

    2. BTW - no problem with mice. These buckets are pretty much mouse proof - but I wouldn't try to claim they're completely mouse proof. Those buggers can be determined!

  7. P.S My Austen Takes the South book #3 is titled Persuasion, Capt. Wentworth, and Cracklin' Cornbread. :)
    I had to do some serious cornbread cooking to find the recipe I wanted to be featured in the title. In the end, I used the cracklin' version but had the heroine hate it. (Sorry, just wasn't my thing.) Plain cornbread, yes!

    1. Crackin' Cornbread? You mean cornbread with cracklin's baked in? Oh, be still my cracklin' lovin' heart!

      Did you include the recipe in the book? When is it going to be out? :)

    2. Yup, recipe is in the book and book will be out Fall 2014!

    3. I made cracklin' cornbread when the kids were little and we were raising our own pork. I wasn't a fan, so your heroine and I would agree!

      But then there were times I did the cracklin' too quick and got it too smokey. Which means I burned it. :) And smoked lard does not make good pie crust... but good lard makes a great pie crust for meat pies!

      Missy, I see that you're doing the sugar and butter thing in that next comment. We've corrupted you! YAY!!!!

  8. I can tell you've been in Kentucky! That's exactly how I make my cornbread. :) Well, except for the home ground grains. LOL I use a cornbread mix. But I add sugar. And I melt the butter in the iron skillet. In fact, I use extra butter in the skillet so just pour the batter on top of it. So good!!

    Thanks for sharing, Jan! I love your photos. :)

    1. Also meant to say we put honey on ours as well. :)

    2. It must be "near south" cornbread!

  9. I think the brand I use is Martha White cornbread mix.

    1. Martha White rules! my aunts use that brand and my mom used it a lot too! I'd use it but I don't like cornbread much!

  10. Jan, I love that you're grinding your own flour! Go, you!

    I don't do that, but I do put sugar in my cornbread, he is wrong, wrong, wrong, and needs to have a Yankee woman beat on him a bit! And sweet potatoes, oh, I was laughing!

    I roast 'em.... and I nuke 'em for a quick "snack" that makes me smile!

    I love sweet potatoes, but I can eat them with just a smidge of butter and lots of salt and pepper. I bow to the calorie/carb machine and enjoy my veggies crisp! But oh, I laughed at that!!!!