Old Fashioned Texas Country Cornbread Is Simple Treat

This pan of cornbread looks just about perfect -- just find a knife and the butter
This pan of cornbread looks just about perfect -- just find a knife and the butter | Source

New York...and cornbread?

Some years ago, while doing a trade show in New York, I found myself getting back to the hotel late and too tired to go out to dinner. New York delicatessens are about the finest thing (in my mind) since homemade lovin’ so I decided to go that route as there was a good one right next door to the hotel. Having loaded up a plate so full I nearly had to take out a bank loan to pay for it; I suddenly discovered “cornbread” muffins at the end of the counter and added one of those. Texas is considered part of the South in these United States and most southerners are cornbread lovers. I learned a huge lesson that night.

A cornbread muffin in the Big Apple has nothing at all to do with a cornbread muffin – or any other form of cornbread – in the southern states. That muffin was sweet – although it did have cornmeal in it – and in my mind should have been considered a dessert! I thought I was buying the kind of cornbread southerners are used to and to say I was more than disappointed is an understatement. I never bought another muffin or anything else in New York that said it was “cornbread” because their definition of that treat and my definition of it just don’t gee and haw!

Being raised in Small Town, Texas is a guarantee one knows what cornbread is. Does everyone love it? Nope, not everyone loves it but most do and consider it a staple in one’s diet. Having been raised by my Granny who put homemade biscuits and cornbread on her table at every meal; well, I’m one of those die hard cornbread addicts – real cornbread. Now, these days there’s every kind of cornbread under the sun – including cranberry cornbread (I saw a recipe the other day) but the cornbread purists among us just want the plain, old, regular cornbread we were raised on.

In the interest of making sure that real cornbread gets its due here – gonna give you the recipe for Granny’s cornbread – and the little tricks that make it taste so good. There’s also a “quick” cornbread she used to make which she called “hot water cornbread” (which is fried in an iron skillet) and hot water cornbread runs a real close second to the baked cornbread of my childhood.


An iron skillet is the first thing needed to make good cornbread -- save cake pans for cakes and save the butter for when the cornbread's done and ready to eat!
An iron skillet is the first thing needed to make good cornbread -- save cake pans for cakes and save the butter for when the cornbread's done and ready to eat! | Source

Cornbread IS NOT cake...

First and foremost – good Texas cornbread must be baked in an iron skillet (at least an 8” one – 10” is good) with about 1/8” grease in the bottom – be it bacon grease, cooking oil, or good ‘ol Crisco. Then that skillet’s got to be hot enough to nearly smoke. Put the skillet on a burner on top of the stove and let ‘er heat up really good! The trick being – when you pour your batter into the skillet the oil/grease should bubble around the edges and you let it cook about 30-45 seconds on top of the stove and that’s what makes it so crispy and tasty on the bottom when you get ready to eat it. After the top burner move is complete you put it in the oven (400 degrees, which you’ve preheated) and let it cook until its golden brown on top.

Fact is, as soon as her cornbread started to brown a bit on top; Granny always took a dinner plate, turned the cornbread out of the skillet (top down) and onto the plate so the bottom was up and then slid the cornbread back in the pan (bottom up). This allows the top to really get a good brown while it’s upside down in the skillet and also allows the bottom (that’s up) to dry out a bit and be more crispy. All-in-all, cooking cornbread a certain time is nearly impossible. You have to watch it – when the top starts to brown – turn it – and after you turn it you should give it about three-to-five minutes upside down and then turn it out of the skillet (right side up) and serve it.

Why would anyone explain how to bake cornbread before including the recipe for it? Well, here’s the trick. If you want really good, crispy bottom and top, cornbread, the information we’ve just given you is probably the most important part of the recipe. Cornbread that’s not browned properly and is kinda just pale and neutral isn’t true, southern cornbread – at least in my experience. Here’s the ingredients:

One (1) cup of yellow (or white) cornmeal – yellow cornmeal gives a coarser texture

One (1) cup of regular flour

Three (3) teaspoons of baking powder

Two (2) (leveled on top) teaspoons of salt

Two (2) eggs

AND...

Enough milk to make a medium thick batter (buttermilk may be substituted and in my opinion is better). Add the milk until you get the proper consistency – if you add too much milk and the batter gets thin the cornbread will not “set up” and will fall apart when you try to cut/eat it. A thick batter makes a thick cornbread and cornbread should fall in the range of not more than 1” to 1-1/2” high when it’s done. If you use too little milk and your cornbread comes out thick – well, that’s just not gonna cut it ‘cause real cornbread is NOT thick like cake.



This cornbread is too thick, not baked in iron skillet, not browned properly and is pale -- looks like cake!
This cornbread is too thick, not baked in iron skillet, not browned properly and is pale -- looks like cake!

Mush? No, no, no...

Southern cornbread is wonderful buttered and served with fresh vegetables. In fact, if you’re having a vegetarian meal you’ll be surprised at how much flavor it adds to everything. In Texas one never cooks brown (pinto) beans without serving cornbread, onion and ice tea with it (and fried potatoes and onions go with that menu pretty good, too!) Cornbread is also great with soups, stews…well, just about anything you can name. Like I said, we had baked cornbread every meal (except breakfast) and I never found anything it didn’t compliment. If you happen not to have a dessert handy just butter more cornbread and put honey on it – yum!

Speaking of breakfast – hot water cornbread is a great breakfast treat! It will, however, take the place of baked cornbread with anything you choose to eat it with. It’s so simple to make it’s nearly funny! In the East and North I’ve heard it called “cornmeal mush” or “fried cornmeal mush.” Neither one of those sound good to me at all so here’s the recipe for “hot water cornbread”:

Two (2) cups of yellow corn meal

Two (2) level teaspoons of salt

Boiling water

Add just enough boiling water (and boiling it must be) to the dry ingredients to make a consistency you can work with your hands and make patties (about 2-1/2 to 3” across) that will hold together. Remember, this is not really a “batter” but a thick consistency (the dry ingredients are just moistened) – thin won’t cut it! Whatever you do; shape patties no thicker than ½” or they’ll be doughy! When you’ve made your corn patties fry them in an iron skillet with about 1/8” grease/oil that’s nearly smoking (just like for baked cornbread). When one side browns to your liking -- turn it over and brown the other side. When the patties are done place them on a plate with a paper towel on it to draw out the excess grease/oil. Hot water cornbread is delightful for breakfast with maple syrup, honey or jam.

I never think of cornbread that I don’t think of my son’s father, Bill. In the interest of our child we remained “sorta” friends after our divorce. Over all those post-divorce years we always had a standing joke. I’d always tell Bill “I sure do miss my dogs” (he’d kept the two cow dogs). He’d always reply “I sure do miss your cornbread!”

Looking back, I’m just grateful he thought I did one thing right, anyway! Of course, after all those years we were married if it's cornbread he remembers that may well explain why the marriage went south!


Copyright 2012 Angela Blair All Rights Reserved








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Comments 44 comments

sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Oh my! I do love my cornbread! Made in an iron skillet just like my mama used to make. Yours sounds just the same. A big ole pat of butter, real butter, and some fried okra. Damn, I'm getting hungry! Wonderful hub, I love your "story recipes"! Mom used to make cornbread cakes for breakfast for me when I was a kid. I still love them with some maple syrup. Voted this up and awesome!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Sounds like we came from the same country kitchen! Thanks so much for the kind words and appreciate your comments -- always enjoy it when I can make somebody hungry! LOL! Best/Sis


Skarlet profile image

Skarlet 4 years ago from California

Now I'm hungry. This looks so good, I will have to try it.


LaThing profile image

LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

Growing up, I was not expose to cornbread or anything to do with cornmeal.... I discovered cornbread after leaving home, and now I love everything that has cornmeal in it..... Well, everything that I have tasted so far! Yes, even the sweet cornbread muffins, lol..... But love your recipe, Sis. And will try it for sure! Looks wonderful! A friend of mine (she is from the South) once brought this corn bread to a potluck, that had salsa mixed in the bread..... So delicious!

Anyway, voting up and very useful......


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

Oh, you are so right, Sis! Cornbread is not cake. I personally think it's a sin to put sugar in cornbread. I grew up eating it from the Mississippi side of our family, and it was made much the same as yours (cast iron skillet is a must), and to this day, I make it the way my grandmother did. I learned the recipe by heart, standing next to her, about elbow-high, while she mixed the milk and cracked the eggs into the batter.

We always had it at noon (the big meal), with greens on top of the split wedges. Every morning at breakfast we had freshly baked biscuits. By supper time, there were usually a few pieces of cornbread, or a biscuit or two, and you could make a nice evening meal with that if you had fig preserves around, and maybe a piece of fried chicken from the noon meal.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful family memory and recipe!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Skarlet -- give it a try to thanks for commenting. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

LaThing -- thanks for commenting -- yep, there's a lot of varieties and they're easy once you get the plain, old, simple one down. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Marcy -- yep, we had our "big meal" at noon, too and Granny called it "dinner" back then. At night we basically had leftovers from dinner and it was called "supper." Wow, times they do change! Appreciate you sharing your memories with us and your comments. Best/Sis


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing this recipe. I adore real cornbread! I also adore the story that goes along with the recipe.Up and awesome.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

The only cornmeal thing I am familiar with being from Minnesota was called johnnie cake. It looks pretty much like your picture but is made in the oven. No, it is not sweet eithr, although it was usually served with maple syrup or some other sweet syrup.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Pop -- thanks for the kudos and stopping by to share this old timey recipe -- much appreciated! Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

dahoglund -- I'd bet we're talking about pretty much the same thing. There's oven cornbread and then there's hot water cornbread -- both yummy! Thanks for commenting. Best/Sis


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

We called the noon meal dinner, too (I was afraid it wouldn't be clear which time of day it was if I worded comments that way). And we ate at a table covered in real oilcloth. I felt more love in that house than anywhere I've ever been, I think. Memories of those years are a true testimony to the fact we don't need a lot of trappings to be happy.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Marcy -- We had real oilcloth, too -- only the preacher got the good tablecloth on the Sundays he came for dinner. Yep, there's so much more to life than the "trappings" and so few know it! Best/Sis


livelonger profile image

livelonger 4 years ago from San Francisco

I'm not a Southerner myself (although I did spend the last 2 years of high school in North Carolina) but I agree with you completely: cornbread is not supposed to be sweetened! There is plenty of natural sweetness in corn. I love that you make yours in a skillet - that's one piece of kitchen equipment that doesn't get the use it deserves in our household - and will be trying this recipe out. NYC does an amazing job with pizza and many other food items, but apparently cornbread is not one of them. :)


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Livelonger -- yep, cornbread is a southern thingy but the wonderful foods I enjoyed in New York are etched in my mind forever. As I said, I especially liked their deli's -- not very sophisticated, huh? Thanks so much for stopping by and hope you enjoy the recipe. Best/Sis


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

I'm really excited to read this hub. I tried cornbread once when an American friend brought some to work with her, and I loved it. It's great to know how to make it, I'm going to try the second recipe with the water as I try to avoid wheat, and if I understand it correctly you don't need wheat flour for that version. Thanks!


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Mom used to fry cornmeal mush after it set up in the fridge, but your hot water cornbread sounds like some heaven I ate...well...in Texas, a few years ago at a little breakfast cafe in some little burg I was passing through one morning. (No insult intended...I grew up in little burgs!)

That cornbread too, was fried in patties, and it was the best I ever had - bar none. Now it looks like I may finally have it again, so thank you, Sis!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, we don't eat cornbread over here in little old England, and it seems that we are missing out! lol! this looks so delicious, and something that I am definitely going to try, even I, with my bad cooking skills should be able to do this! lol! wonderful! cheers nell


Miss Belgravia profile image

Miss Belgravia 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

Nell Rose -- I lived in London for a couple of years, and one night made up a batch of cornbread (I had smuggled some cornmeal into my suitcase the last time I went home to Texas). I took the cornbread to my local pub, and it disappeared in no time. Everyone was very skeptical, thinking it was going to be bread with corn kernels in it, but once they tasted it, they were converts. If you live in London, Partridge's has Aunt Jemima corn meal, and the recipe on the back is pretty good, if you leave out the sugar!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Moon Daisy -- glad you're going to try the hot water cornbread -- and hope it works for you. Appreciate you stopping by and your comments. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Will -- the recipe is so very simple even wives/sisters/daughters don't mind cooking it for the men in the family -- so it's a win, win for all. As to little burgs -- been in 'em all my life and would certainly never take offense at the word -- lots of good folks live in little burgs! Thanks for stopping by -- your comments are always uplifting. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Hi Nell -- years ago my brother was in England rehearsing with Stephen Stills for his first world tour. The only thing we heard from Brother while he was over there was that he missed Texas country cooking -- guess we all like what we grow up with! Glad you're going to try it -- it's easy and if no one else makes cornbread you can be a culinary star! Appreciate your comments so very much. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Miss Belgravia -- thanks for the comments and the great info -- like you, I leave out any sugar whatsoever in any cornbread recipe. Best/Sis


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Someone say cornbread!? I must admit I have grown better at eating than making it. blame it on my daughter. she is a chef.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Mhatter99 -- how fortunate you are to have a daughter for a chef -- no wonder you're better at eating cornbread than making it -- I wouldn't cook either! Great comment and thanks for stopping by. Best/Sis


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Oh yeah! Cook me up some bacon and some beans...

TFP


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

BTW, if you have a deep fat fryer (I use mine all the time), the hot water cornbread patties can be fried at 375 degrees until browned and then flipped and finished.

Great with butter and honey!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Frog -- they're on the way -- thanks for commenting. Best/Sis


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Will -- I'll give that a definite try -- sounds really good! Best/Sis


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Angela - I am a huge corn bread lover and I will be tackling this recipe as soon as the temperature dips below 98!


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

shiningirisheyes -- understand that concept entirely -- we're in the triple digits now -- ahhh, summer in Texas! Thanks for commenting! Best/Sis


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

Hmm, well after trying in vain to find corn meal and cursing our local supermarkets, today I was very excited to find some corn flour. Sadly I've since googled and found that it's not the same thing at all! It's used for thickening sauces, and not suitable for making corn bread at all.

So I will try to take it back to the shop, and resume my hunt...


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Moon Daisy -- so sorry you're having a problem finding corn meal. Suggest you Google "stone ground cornmeal" -- it's a bit rougher texture but makes the very best cornbread -- choose the yellow instead of the white. Best/Sis


Miss Belgravia profile image

Miss Belgravia 4 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

Moon Daisy -- Partridge's on King's Road has corn meal. The corn flour you found is called corn starch in the U.S.

Even though it was 108 degrees here yesterday, I couldn't wait and had to try Angela's recipe. It was wonderful, although I wasn't agile enough to be able to flip it the way she suggests. I made a big pot of pinto beans to go with it, and had a great meal.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Miss Belgravia -- thanks so much for sharing your info with Moon Daisy. The flipping thing with the pan is always a bit tricky as iron skillets are heavy and occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, the cornbread with stick to the pan. Would suggest running a spatula around the edge of the cornbread before the flipping part. Glad you enjoyed the cornbread -- and a pot of pinto beans with it -- now you're cooking, girlfriend. Best/Sis


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

I'm just frying some hot water corn bread now! Yes, I managed to find cornmeal. And in Tesco, one of our biggest supermarkets! It was in the ethnic food section all along. :) They are looking good, can't wait to try them!


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

Miss Belgravia, thanks for the advice. I found it in Tesco! Just didn't know where to look before, lol! I'm glad you made the cornbread and enjoyed it. I'm going to taste it soon. Can't wait!


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

I ate some with clear honey, and it's really delicious! I like the idea of using maple syrup too. (That's another thing I have to see if they do at Tesco...) And I also want to try it with fried potatoes and onions. I'm going to make a batch of this for my friends.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Moon Daisy -- glad the recipes are working out for you -- and know your friends will enjoy them. There's nothing better than fried potatoes and onions -- also very good with cornbread and pinto beans. Now, add some sliced tomatoes, sweet tea with lemon and enjoy! (All that really goes together well -- southern cooking for sure!) Best/lSis


Au fait profile image

Au fait 4 years ago from North Texas

This recipe is great! I think what makes it special is all the tips you included that us Yankees would never know without someone like you tellin' us. I have to say the fried patties near the end really interest me. They sound quick, easy, and delicious!

We used to have what we called johnny cake from cornmeal up where I'm from and of course it's nothing like cornbread. It isn't thick, it's just like a nice light cake and good with honey or maple syrup, although it was never my favorite. Also, what we called cornmeal mush was sort of like cream of wheat if you've ever had that. Same consistency, but made from cornmeal and tasted much better to me. I hate cream of wheat, which is more like grits I think.

You should consider writing a good 'ol fashioned Southern or Texas cookbook and marketing it. I bet you have other great recipes that require those special instructions to make them turn out just right and lots of people would love to have them. Think Amazon/Kindle e-publishing.

Voted you up and awesome because your instructions really are what make this recipe special.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas Author

Au fait -- awwwww, you can sure make an old lady feel good. There are "tricks" to country cooking and without them some of our dishes just don't turn out right -- like the cornbread and also biscuits! Love the idea of the cook book -- maybe could call it "Home on the Range?" (Not a bad name for us cowboy/cowgirl types who cook!) Thanks again -- wonderful to hear from you and hope you enjoy the recipes. Best/Sis


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 17 months ago from London, UK

Thanks. It's tastier and healthier than white bread.


Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 17 months ago from Central Texas Author

Lady E -- thanks for commenting. I agree -- it's certainly tastier and statistics back up it's healthier than white bread. Must admit -- like most southerners I'm a white bread addict, too! Best/Sis

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