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iron skillet cornbread, and how to wish for something

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By Jen White · October 31, 2011 · 0 Comments ·

When I get a hankering for something, I become a relentless researcher.  In a way, it's a hindrance--I believe there is one perfect way to make what I want using the ingredients I already have, and I look through every book and website I can find, sure that it will appear.  That rarely happens, but that's how I end up making my own versions of things.  (Sometimes it would be nice to just look up a recipe and buy what it calls for, though.)

Paul has been busy lately re-seasoning the cast iron skillet, and it's more beautiful than ever; it's got that slick, midnight-black, nonstick coating that it never really achieved before the last time it got caught in a little flood in the basement.  We were anxious to get some good cracklin' cornbread going in that thing, although we didn't have cracklins, we just had bacon. And I didn't have milk, I just had buttermilk. And I wanted a little tiny bit of sugar and some flour along with the cornmeal, so we didn't have to eat cornmeal hockey pucks. The search was on. I never found a recipe that used the exact size of skillet we possess (9") and hot bacon drippings and buttermilk, etc., so I ended up adapting John Besh's recipe from his book My New Orleans.  Luckily--and it was truly lucky, because I never really know what's going to happen when I alter recipes for baked goods--it was just what we wanted. A little chewy, very savory, and crispy on the edges from the screaming hot skillet.

There are about a million recipes on the interwebs for cornbread cooked in an iron skillet. If you just happen to wish for what I wished for, you can use this recipe and have a really good supper (and breakfast, if you fry up some leftover pieces and pour honey over them).  If you don't have a skillet and just want a good basic cornbread to make in a pan, here's my favorite recipe (either with or without blueberries).

iron skillet cornbread with bacon and buttermilk

based on "cracklins corn bread" in My New Orleans by John Besh

  • 3 Tablespoons bacon drippings
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup crumbled crisply cooked bacon

 

  1. Put the bacon drippings into a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Preheat the oven to 425 and slide the skillet in to heat.
  2. Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, cayenne, baking powder, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. If you find any little lumps of baking powder, press them with your fingers to break them up.
  3. In another bowl, mix the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter together well.
  4. Stir the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture, and gently fold in the bacon.
  5. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour in the batter (the bacon drippings will pool up a little on top--that's a good thing).  Return the skillet to the oven and bake until the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

makes one 9" round loaf, about 8 to 10 slices

Note: This seems like a large amount of baking powder, especially compared to many other cornbread recipes, which typically use about 2 teaspoons.  Well, it worked, and there was no weirdness with the leavening. I added baking soda to temper the acidity of the buttermilk, and the loaf turned out high and light in the center, but it still had those densely crispy edges.

posted by
11/01/11

yum yum!


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