A “Northerner’s” cornbread, it is usually made with yellow corn meal (though a good grainy white cornmeal works just as well), and a little sugar (Southern corn bread recipes often omit sugar). I love to add crisp bacon crumbles or even better – cracklins, if I have the luxury, and softened dried corn (that I “put up” during corn season).
I found this recipe in Bernard Clayton, Jr.’s The Complete Book of Breads, and tweaked it slightly. The original recipe calls for the room temperature butter to be beaten with a fork into the milk and eggs. Frankly, I’m puzzled as to how to beat softened butter into milk and eggs, so rather than risk it my first go at the recipe, I just cut the butter into the dry ingredients, as one would for a pie crust. The result is a moist, tender, delicate cornbread with a wonderful crumb. Also, I bake the bread in a cast iron skillet instead of a baking dish. This gives the bottom a delightfully crisp, browned crust, and the bread a good rise and even bake.
3 Tbsp. dried corn (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup cold butter (½ stick), cut into small pieces 2 eggs
1 cup milk
⅓ cup chopped crisp bacon or cracklins (optional)
- Lightly grease a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet. Pre-heat the oven to 425 ̊ Fahrenheit.
- Place the corn in a small bowl or a mug. Add enough very hot or boiling water to just cover and set aside while you mix the batter.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cornmeal.
- Cut the butter into the dry ingredients, as you would for pie dough, so that the resulting butter bits are small but visible “pearls”. Beat together the milk and eggs. Add the liquid into the batter, stirring with a wooden spoon just long enough to incorporate the ingredients. Do not over-stir. Drain the corn (reserving the hydrating liquid for rice or soup if you wish). Gently blend the corn and the cracklins into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Let rest 10 minutes.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not over-bake or the cornbread will be dry. Cut and serve immediately.
From Chef Kathryn Yeomans
The Farmer's Feast