Cornbread

Cornbread Recipe

I have always been more careful than I want to be, and I hope that life will be long so that I can continue to practice my “danger” skills. My daughter Sadie has inherited the careful gene from me, whereas my other daughter Rosie careens through the world at breakneck speed. Here I am doing that thing that parents do—putting one child into one box and the other child into another. The girls continue to show me the folly of this box making.

One winter day, Sadie and I took a hike after school. It was cold and snowy and rainy and surprisingly lovely all around us. I took baby steps down the snow-covered path and Sadie laughed at me and let go of my hand. Sadie, my careful child who struggles with her bike for fear of tipping, who didn’t jump until she was four years old, galloped down the icy mountain, a tiny superhero with her hair flying behind her like a cape. She skidded to a stop every few seconds to look up at me.

“Come on, mom!”

When she finally did fall, sliding butt-first into the slushy ground, she looked surprised and then burst into laughter.

“I never imagined that I would fall!”

We both made it down the mountain without a scratch. I took Sadie’s ice-cold hand in mine and we headed for the car. I had had enough risk for the day, and when we got home, I made cornbread.

Cornbread, just out of the pan with butter, is safety in a pan. You can make cornbread in half an hour and it will be good as long as it stays warm. There are plenty of foods for brave days. There are caramels and soufflés and delicate cuts of meat. But some days it just has to be cornbread.

This slightly sweet cornbread is inspired by a recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (Countryman Press, 2003). It’s entirely risk-free, quick to make, and will never fail you.–Alana Chernila

LC The Cornbread Of Your Childhood Note

This moist, ever-so-slightly sweet, faintly maple-y cornbread is able to sop up all manner of chili, pan gravy, and sauces in a single swipe, and it can be stirred up just  as quickly as it disappears. But before you start gathering ingredients, allow us to share our theory about how folks tend to have very specific expectations about what they want from cornbread. We think it has everything to do with what you experienced growing up. (Yes, just like your therapist, we’re taking this back to your childhood.) If your momma made you cornbread that was spare on the sweetness, be forewarned, this isn’t it. If your momma made something sufficiently sweet and with a cakey enough crumb to pass as dessert, this ain’t it either. If you crave something smack in-between that went equally well with fried chicken, ribs, a crock of beans, and a tall glass of cold milk, well, now we’re talking.

Cornbread Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4.75 ounces) yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus additional for the pan

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C). Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish or 9-inch round baking pan or a similarly sized cast-iron skillet.
  • 2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
  • 3. Break the eggs into a large measuring cup or a medium bowl and beat them with the whisk. Add the buttermilk, maple syrup, and melted butter to the eggs and whisk together until thoroughly combined.
  • 4. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and gently stir just until combined, using only a few strokes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cornbread is lightly browned, pulling away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester or butter knife comes out clean when inserted into the center. Serve the cornbread warm, preferably with butter. [Editor’s Note: Or with ribs. Or fried chicken. Or a tall glass of cold milk. Or, well, you tell us….]
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Annie Leslie

Aug 27, 2012

I think this cornbread is foolproof! I like that the maple syrup gives it a slight sweetness. It also gives it a unique flavor, but not so much that it overpowers the apple butter my family likes to put on the bread. I added the liquids to the dry ingredients and stirred with a whisk for about 15 strokes. I also baked mine in a dark round 9-inch cake pan, whereas normally I would use cast iron, which I think would work for this. The bread was done right at 20 minutes and popped right out of the pan.

Testers Choice
Brooke Barbera

Aug 27, 2012

This recipe produced a no-fail, trusty cornbread that I could make over and over again. The crumb was perfect, and the man of the house thought it was perfect just as the author suggested–served warm with butter. I prefer a sweeter cornbread, as this one had a slight tang (probably from the leavening agents), but a honey butter balanced it nicely.

Testers Choice
Trudy Ngo-Brown

Aug 27, 2012

I discovered that this recipe CAN fail you…if your timer doesn’t get turned on, you move on to other things outside of the kitchen, and, 40 minutes later, you realize you had something in the oven. Unbelievably, the cornbread was still palatable but fairly overdone. (I saved that batch for cornbread stuffing.) I gave the recipe another shot on a different night, and I’m so glad I did. It’s an incredibly easy recipe that yields a bread with just the right amount of sweetness to it. This may be my go-to recipe now for cornbread, with easy additions such as cheddar cheese, scallions/chives, or sauteed and diced bell pepper.

Testers Choice
Natalie Reebel

Aug 27, 2012

While I’m not normally a fan of cornbread, I found this recipe to really work well. As I was gently stirring the wet ingredients into the dry, the maple aroma filled the kitchen, and when we pulled the pan from the oven, we had a tender, moist, buttery cornbread. It had a touch of maple flavor, but overall it tasted more savory than other cornbreads. It is truly excellent eaten warm. This recipe produces a fantastic cornbread.

Testers Choice
Julie T.

Aug 27, 2012

A passport back to the States for me! Now living in India and surrounded by so many flat breads, I’ve forgotten about this delicious American classic! I absolutely loved this recipe. The texture, taste, time of cooking, and the simplicity of it are all simply divine! I served the cornbread with Rajma (curried kidney beans) on Tuesday. On Wednesday I served the yummy corn bread with shrimp sautéed with a sofrito topped with fresh chopped cilantro and scallions. And on Thursday had it with two fried eggs topped with a homemade roasted chili salsa. HEAVEN!

Testers Choice
Carrie S.

Aug 27, 2012

What makes this recipe different from most of the cornbread that I’ve made before is the extra sweetness that comes from the maple syrup. While the sweetness is balanced by the buttermilk tang, it didn’t work as a side with the smoky and spicy chili we ate with it.The flavors seemed to compete more so than complement. Had the cornbread had bacon or chilies in it, it may have worked better. But this recipe is still a keeper. When we had the leftover cornbread the next day with breakfast, that’s when the appreciation for this recipe kicked in. The maple syrup sweetness went well with the turkey bacon and a side of fresh blueberries and this time, the cornbread was a hit!

Testers Choice
Brenda Carleton

Aug 27, 2012

OK. I admit it. I just finishing pigging out on this cornbread–just couldn’t stop. First of all, it was dead easy to make gluten free. I just used a gluten-free AP blend. There is absolutely no way one would be able to tell it is gluten free. Second, the maple syrup added such a lovely maple-y flavor. Usually I have cornbread with maple syrup drizzled over it, but I did not feel the need this time. This may just be my go-to cornbread recipe from now on. It simply could not have been improved. Third, this would go amazingly well with a host of things. What did I have it with? Apple cider, because apple and maple have an affinity for one another. Lashings of butter went on one piece, apple butter on another and raspberry jam on a third. All delicious, but the apple butter was my favorite. Normally we would eat it with chili, braised bean and chorizo dishes, beef stew or as dumplings with chicken. or even as a stuffing in roast chicken/cornish game hens. But today was simply a cornbread day without all that. And now that the pan is a third empty, I am pleasantly full.

Testers Choice
Tracey G.

Aug 27, 2012

I loved that this cornbread was not just delicious but also fast and easy. It was quickly inhaled by everyone in my family, accompanied for some with honey and for others with butter and rosemary salt. I would make this again in a heartbeat, not only to eat by itself but as a base for other recipes that call for cornbread.

Testers Choice
Victoria Filippi

Aug 27, 2012

This recipe was very simple and really quick to put together. The maple syrup gave it just the right amount of sweetness, whereas the buttermilk added tanginess and tenderness. The bake time was right on. It was a little crisp on top and moist inside. I served it with some maple butter I made by whisking pure maple syrup into some softened, unsweetened butter. Simply delicious. Would be wonderful with a bowl of chili, a slab of ribs…or spread some jam on it and enjoy with a cup of tea.

Testers Choice
Sita Krishnaswamy

Aug 27, 2012

This is a cinch to make. The batter was quite sweet to taste; however, once I baked it, I could taste just a hint of the maple syrup. It is more like a cake-like bread. I served it with roasted tomato and fresh herb soup and a salad of fresh greens.

Testers Choice
Anna Scott

Aug 27, 2012

This really is a wonderful and easy-to-make go-to cornbread recipe. I was curious to put this recipe up against my current go-to cornbread recipe from the fantastic Joy of Cooking cookbook. I really enjoyed the maple syrup in this cornbread–I am used to adding maybe a tablespoon of sugar for that tiny bite of sweetness, but the maple syrup gave it a wonderfully smooth sweetness. It took exactly 20 minutes to cook through and start to brown slightly around the edges like the recipe reads. I really suggest serving this with a touch of butter–that creaminess goes well with the maple taste of the cornbread. In response to your question, “How do you like to serve your cornbread?” My response is, “I build the meal around the comfort of the cornbread.” In other words, I think of comforting foods from childhood to pair with the cornbread. What I did last night was pair this with a classic meatloaf recipe, braised greens, and roasted fingerling potatoes. This cornbread would be great with a lot of comforting meals–beef stew, chili, fried chicken….or by itself for breakfast, in my opinion!

Testers Choice
Carol Anne Grady

Aug 27, 2012

This recipe does exactly what it promises and serves up comforting, soft cornbread. It’s easy to make and you’re left with a fragrant kitchen and a pan full of goodness. I particularly liked the addition of maple syrup. That sweetness plays off against some fried chicken and a lovely mushroom gravy quite, quite wonderfully.

Comments
Comments
  1. I’ve never made corn bread with maple syrup before, so will have to give this a try. I grew up eating grit bread, which is basically non-sweet cornbread made with stone ground grits to give it crunch. It’s great smushed into a glass of buttermilk, which is the way my father always ate it, although perhaps an acquired taste! Kendra

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Thanks for your willingness to consider something this side of sweet, Kendra. We know lots of Southerners who wouldn’t even glance at a corn bread recipe with sugar or syrup in it. Trade you recipes?

      • You bet Renee! This is my dad’s recipe, Kent Graybeal Bailey, hence the K.G. in the title :) It’s a denser cornbread with a little crunch from the grits. It’s awesome sliced open and pan fried in butter in a cast-iron skillet or with buttermilk like I mentioned.

        By the way, I believe I still owe you a funeral cake recipe ;) Haven’t forgotten. Trying to get this book out of my hair first!

        Kendra

  2. Susan says:

    I wish there was a “like” button! Or even a “love” button. ;0

  3. Jamie says:

    Strangely enough, for as much as I love corn bread, I only make it once every several years because my Frenchmen don’t eat it. They think it is too sweet– like eating cake with a meal. Too bad! Since I have a bag of cornflour in my pantry brought back from a trip to the UK I must try this recipe. I love the King Arthur recipes but haven’t tried their corn bread yet.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Jamie, this corn bread is only very slightly sweet, so they may be surprised. Still, quite simply, their loss is your gain. Bake a pan as soon as you can. There are soooo many things you can do with leftover corn bread other than eat a hunk straight from that pan. Crumble it into a glass of milk. Slice a thick chunk and sizzle it in a skillet with some butter and serve alongside ham or eggs. (Need I go on…?)

  4. Patricia says:

    This corn bread looks wonderful, however, it would be extra special if two things were added: bacon fat and jalapeno’s.

  5. Lola says:

    The first time I made this, I used a light, 9-inch round and it turned out fine after about 23 minutes but the second time, I used an 8-inch dark cake pan and had to put it in for about 38 min. It browned quickly, so I covered it in foil. I also added a bit of sugar, as I like my cornbread sweeter.

    Hope this helps others!

    It’s the best cornbread recipe I’ve ever used.

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks for the comment, Lola. The cornbread needed extra time in the small pan because there was less surface area so it took longer for the interior to cook. Darker pans are notorious for turning out darker baked goods.

      How much extra sugar did you add?

  6. chowyunfood says:

    I LOVE a sweet corn bread…Can’t wait to try this beauty!

  7. I haven’t had a chance to try the recipe yet, but it is very similar to my family recipe, except for the maple syrup:
    http://thecookslife.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/cornbread-in-a-jiffy-from-scratch/.

    We always had Southern cornbread when I was growing up – no sugar or other sweetener allowed. Ever. But over the years my more “northern” mother has brought my dad around to sweet jelly or honey on top of the non-sweet cornbread, at least sometimes. I’m the hybrid – I like sweet cornbread sometimes. Don’t tell my dad.

    I can’t wait until I have time to try this one – maple is a favorite flavor of ours.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      And we can’t wait to hear what you think of this recipe, Sarah! Don’t worry—you’re secret is safe with us.

  8. Kim Bultman says:

    “Cornbread is… safety in a pan.” What a beautiful, true sentiment. I grew up with plain, ol’ Johnny Cake (with maybe a smidge of sugar added) in the North, but your maple-hinted cornbread sounds like North meets South in heaven. By the way, I was salivating over the prospect of beans & ham with cornbread at a local diner yesterday, but ended up settling on Fried Green Tomatoes (dipped in a cornmeal batter.) Somehow the “ideeyah” of ribs with this… or fried chicken… or a glass of milk… makes me so glad I moved to the South!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      That very line is what initially drew my attention to this recipe, Kim. As you say, it’s beautiful and true. I envy you your childhood of johnny cakes, although this lovely recipe is pretty decent compensation. And yes, I couldn’t agree more, it’s the quintessential sidekick to ribs or chicken or cold milk. Let us know when you think of it when you make it.

  9. Kelley Butler says:

    This cornbread recipe offers a butter-flavored goodness. We did not have buttermilk and substituted with 1 cup of milk + 1 teaspoon of vinegar. I usually add whatever oil I have on hand to my cornbread, but never butter and I loved the butter…

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Swell to hear, Kelley! This is our favorite recipe, too, for what we think are obvious reasons….

  10. Tasty. I was out of cornmeal, so I substituted grits. Worked like a champ. I preheated the oven with the cast iron skillet inside. A tablespoon of ghee in the pan melted beautifully. In the batter went. Rose beautifully. And it was tough to let it cool enough before cutting into it. Great texture. The sweetness was just right with chicken and rice. Dessert here I come.

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