Having grown up in Canada, I managed to make it to my early twenties without ever having eaten the quick bread that is so ubiquitous in the United States. Up until I moved here, to me, cornbread meant the heavy (though delicious) yeast bread that our local Portuguese bakery made with white cornmeal. It wasn't until I was handed a piece of cornbread as a side in California that I encountered the cousin of the yeast-leavened variety. While I instantly liked cornbread, I didn't understand why it was served as a side and not as a dessert--it was just that sweet. That first piece of cornbread was also very light, fluffy, and tender. In other words, it had the texture of cake.
When I moved to Texas, I was introduced to yet another species of cornbread. There cornbread tended to be very dense and not the slightest bit sweet. Also, it is often served in the cast iron skillet in which it was cooked. At first, I didn't really appreciate the heavier texture and more bitter taste, but I soon realized that it was wonderful with the honey butter that is often served along with it. After three years in Texas, I came to love southern-style cornbread.
The cornbread I make at home is somewhere between these two extremes. It is not as fluffy or as sweet as the cornbread I used to buy in California because it has far less sugar and a much higher ratio of cornmeal to flour. On the other hand, it does have some sugar and a significant amount of flour, so it is still lighter and sweeter than a true Texas-style cornbread. Furthermore, I bake it in a 8" square baking dish since I do not own a cast iron skillet. This cornbread meets both my needs as well as my husband's. While my basic sensibilities tell me that a side dish should not be sweet, he prefers his cornbread to be cake-like. It took a few years to find a recipe and then to adapt it so that it would yield a product that would make us both happy, but I recently managed to do so.
Adapted from food.com
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Butter 8"x8" baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg. Beat in the buttermilk and butter.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
- Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 20-25, until a toothpick inserted into the center is dry upon removal.