If you want cornbread as it used to be, try the old-fashioned cornbread variation, below. The basic version is plenty sweet and rich enough, but you could add even more sugar, another egg, and even more fat. Or you could add bits of cooked bacon, sautéed onions or shallots, chili powder or cumin, chopped chilies or herbs, grated cheese, mashed or puréed beans or fresh, canned or frozen corn -- you may have to adjust the amount of liquid you add.
- 4 tablespoons butter, olive oil, lard or bacon drippings
- 1 1/2 cups medium-grind cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk, more if needed
- 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put fat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or in an 8-inch square baking pan. Place pan in oven.
- 2. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix eggs into milk, then stir this mixture into dry ingredients, combining with a few swift strokes. If mixture seems dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk.
- 3. When fat and oven are hot, remove skillet or pan from oven, pour batter into it and smooth out top. Return pan to oven. Bake about 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and sides have pulled away from pan; a toothpick inserted into center will come out clean. Serve hot or warm.
- Old-Fashioned Cornbread: Reduce fat to 1 tablespoon, sugar to 1 tablespoon (or none) and eggs to 1. Bake as above.
- Lighter Cornbread: Separate eggs. Stir yolks into milk, as above, and beat whites until stiff but not dry, then gently stir them into prepared batter after yolks and milk have been incorporated. Bake as above.