This Consummate Skillet Cornbread uses one bowl and takes 5 minutes to prepare. The simplicity of a box mix, but so much better. This is Cornbread, perfected.
I have been trying to perfect cornbread for many years. I was looking for moist, sweet, and light, with a tender texture. I have tried so many recipes, I think I circled back again to the first one. Although the pictures of beautifully hued yellow cornbread looked amazing and the description fit the bill, the outcome didn’t. I wanted a cornbread that was easy, tasty, and quick. This was easily accomplished by using a mix, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I have always made everything from scratch. If my kids saw me opening up a box mix I think they would faint. There’s no reason why you can’t aim for baking from scratch. An example, my Best Cocoa Brownies are as quick and simple as the box mix with a better result.
Many recipes include 3 times as much flour than cornmeal. Adding 3 times more flour than cornmeal no longer made it cornbread. I understand the flour made it softer in texture, but the whole purpose of making cornbread is to have cornmeal in it.
There is a long debate about Southern Cornbread and Northern Cornbread. I am a Northerner and that is why I am used to sweet, moist, cornbread. I am not saying it is better than Southern, I am only saying what I grew up with and am nostalgic about is sweet and tender in texture. I want the taste of corn to shine through, but I don’t want the course texture that’s a result of having it all cornmeal.
One day, I was talking to my aunt Julia about polenta. Whisking the cornmeal into boiling water to soften, then flavoring however you like. I tried my recipe for cornbread whisking the cornmeal into the hot water. I was somewhat excited that I finally was closer to what I have been looking for all these years.
Could this be it? Could this be the one?!
No. It wasn’t. It was a dense, hard, tasteless block of yellow mass. I tried again with milk and it made no difference. This thing could have been used as a frisbee or a weapon. I stored it in the closet next to the front door just in case I get some annoying solicitors.
I was getting away from the simplicity of making cornbread. Why go through all this trouble? That little Jiffy box is calling from the supermarket shelves! Although disappointed, I didn’t give up.
Going back to the basics, I came up with my old recipe that I created years ago. It’s a good recipe but it needed improvement because although the flavor was good, it didn’t stay moist for long. Instead of using all butter, I changed it to butter and oil. Oil is all fat where butter has water content. Adding oil will keep it moist whereas butter – although flavorful – can be dry. Besides, if you really want delicious butter flavor, eat with a slab of butter.
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Going back to basics meant making this easy. Preheat oven to 400. Using a 10 inch cast iron skillet, add the butter and cut into slices. It doesn’t have to be perfect. We are just slicing it to melt quicker. Place skillet into preheated oven. Meanwhile…
Whisk together dry ingredients in one bowl. In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure 1 cup of milk, pour in 1/4 cup of oil (you now have 1 1/4 cups of liquid), add in the eggs and whisk with a fork or small whisk. Check to see if butter has melted in skillet. If it’s mostly melted then proceed. Pour wet into dry and whisk until combined. Remove the skillet from oven and pour about half of the melted butter into the batter and whisk together until just combined. Pour the batter back into the skillet with remaining butter. Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden.
The result is awesome. The crust is buttery and crisp while the texture of the cornbread is moist and tender. The flavor of corn came through wonderfully. I enjoyed a slice with butter and felt I had finally created the ultimate cornbread.
Then, when the kids came home, I sliced them a piece. They loved the taste, but as I was serving them a slice, I noticed the crust was no longer crisp. I shouldn’t have been surprised and don’t know why I was. Just as when baking cakes and muffins, you let it cool in the pan for a few minutes then turn it out onto a rack or platter. Having the cornbread sit in the skillet only softened the crust. It’s still absolutely delicious and if you don’t have a problem with a tender crust then enjoy. If you want a crispier exterior, then continue reading.
After another attempt, I think this was attempt 1,218, I let it cool for about 10 minutes then inverted the cornbread onto a cutting board and sliced a piece. I have to say, it may have taken years and the lightbulb in my head was slow turning on, but when it did, it was worth waiting for! The crust was perfect and the interior divine. Again, this step is optional and I have to share, there were a few times when the bottom didn’t look perfect. But who cares! How it tastes is important and if you want a crispy crust so be it. If you don’t, it’s just as delicious as is.
This Consummate Skillet Cornbread goes great with Nat Your Average Chili (love that name) or you can make it just because you want a delicious, tender, sweet, moist skillet cornbread. Who can blame you? I don’t feel the need to serve this with a sweetened butter as the cornbread is sweet on its own. Plain good quality butter is a perfect accompaniment or just enjoy as is.
As for the flops, they are still in the closet next to the front door ready to use for any unwanted visitors.
Be happy, eat well…
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 stick butter cut in slices for ease in melting*
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400.
Using a 10 inch cast iron skillet, add the butter and place skillet into preheated oven. Meanwhile...
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure 1 cup of milk, pour in ¼ cup of oil (you now have 1 ¼ cups of liquid), add in the eggs and whisk with a fork. Check to see if butter has melted in skillet. If it's mostly melted then proceed.
Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
Remove the cast iron skillet from oven.
Pour half of the melted butter (doesn't have to be exact) into the batter and whisk together until just combined. Pour the batter back into the skillet with remaining butter.
Place the skillet back in the oven and bake until puffed and golden - about 25 minutes.
Remove the skillet from oven and let cool 10 minutes.
If you want a crispier crust, invert cornbread onto cutting board and remove skillet. Otherwise, slice and serve right from skillet.
Serve with butter and Enjoy!
Butter can be salted or unsalted. I have used both.