Sweet Southern Cornbread

I’ll admit it: my secret dream is to have people love me for my cooking. That’s why I’ve been baking my butt off lately, trying to fill my recipe box with things that I can take to school and impress people with. Today, my sister was craving apple turnovers, so I made her my recipe for Apple Pie Bites. While we were at the grocery store getting the ingredients, I remembered that I’ve been wanting to try this cornbread recipe, pinned from American Heritage Cooking, so I got what I needed for that, too. 

Well, I thought I got everything I needed. Let’s start at the beginning though. Here are the ingredients, as listed by Lindsay Farr, the author of the original blog post.

“½ cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ t baking soda

½ t salt”

I only bought the buttermilk and cornmeal, because I was positive I had everything else at home. The rest are like, baking staples, you know? So I got home, and I always set all of my ingredients out on the counter before I start. The very first ingredient was unsalted butter, and I only had one half stick, which is a quarter cup. I had plenty of salted butter, so I pulled a very daring move and used the unsalted butter that I had, along with a half a stick of salted butter. 

The first step in the recipe is to grease an 8-inch pan and preheat the oven to 375, and then the second step is to melt the butter “in a large skillet.” I LOL’ed and melted it in the microwave because:

Then you mix in the sugar with a whisk, and this made it pretty chunky. Then, you “quickly” add the eggs. I guess you have to do it quickly so the butter mixture doesn’t dry out, but that’s just a guess. 

Next, you have to make another mixture of the buttermilk and the baking soda. Here’s where I may have screwed up a little, because I didn’t have baking soda. Well, I did, but it had expired in 2011. So, I Googled how to substitute baking powder for baking soda, and found out that even though they’re different, it is possible. According to an article on chemistry.about.com, the ideal way to do it is to use 3x as much baking powder as you would baking soda. So, the recipe calls for 1/2 a teaspoon, so you would use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons. HOWEVER, it went on to say that this messes with the taste of the recipe a bit, so there’s a compromise. You should double it instead of triple it (so it would be 1 teaspoon now) and omit any salt. I did that, but then I was thinking “well shit, I used salted butter when I wasn’t supposed to,” so there went that. I did my best though. So, with all of my edits, this is what the ingredients list looked like for my version:

½ 1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup salted butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ t baking soda 1 t baking powder

½ t salt” 

So after I figured out what to do about the baking soda issue, I had to mix it with the buttermilk. Lindsay from American Heritage Cooking put a warning in her recipe about how you should do this quickly, because this mixture will immediately start creating CO2, flattening the cornbread and doubling the volume of the buttermilk, which we do not want. So I got a little nervous, and quickly just dumped the powder on top of the buttermilk in a measuring cup and dumped it in the mixing bowl. I did literally no mixing, which was probably a mistake in hindsight. 

After this, you add the flour, cornmeal and salt if you’re using it. Blend it well with your whisk, until it’s only a little bit lumpy. Then, pour it in your greased 8 inch pan, and pop it in the oven for a half hour!

After 30 minutes, I did the toothpick test, and it came out clean, even though the original recipe said it may take up to 40 minutes. When I cut it, I noticed it was very dense. Here, take a look:



When I tried it, I noticed that it was very buttery, but I had it in my head that it was going to be sweeter, and I was a little disappointed that it was a little, well, not. It was very buttery though, and that was good. I liked the second and third bites better than the first, if that makes any sense. 

If I were to try this recipe again, which I very well might do, I think I’ll have to just do it more by-the-book than I did this time. I made a lot of changes that might have changed the original taste and texture, so that’s my fault. But, now you guys have the original recipe as well as my version, so you can try it for yourselves and let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks for reading!


5 thoughts on “Sweet Southern Cornbread

  1. If you’re using baking powder you don’t need to worry as much about quick mixing because baking powder is typically “double acting” – not only does the base in the powder react with the acid (buttermilk) to create CO2, but two ingredients in the baking powder react with each other at a temperature above like 80C or something like that to produce CO2 (hence double acting). It doesn’t hurt to move fast to maximize your fluff, but it’s not do or die. I’ve made cornbread in the past which has turned out good and I just mixed the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, combine and mix until smooth, pour into pan, and put in oven for 20-25 minutes at 450, second lowest rack. I can’t recall exactly but I think that recipe made about the same amount but used a tablespoon of baking powder. Also, if you were disappointed in the sweetness, it will taste sweeter with more salt, so even if you use salted butter I’d still use 1/2 t of salt. Definitely 1 t of salt with unsalted butter.

    • Thanks so much for all the info! It’s interesting to see how much chemistry there is to baking 🙂 I’m still learning all the tricks of the trade, so comments from experienced readers are always helpful! And thank you for reading!

  2. Haha! You crack me up! I only melt the butter in a skillet because I bake it in the same skillet and I’m lazy. I’ve made it in a baking dish before and I melted it in the microwave. It is definitely a very buttery cornbread. You could always sprinkle more sugar on top before serving. Baking powder does change the flavor of baked goods if you use too much…I know because I ruined 5 batches of gingerbread this way. It was a tragedy.

    Your cornbread definitely looked more dense than mine but I can think of 2 other possible reasons. How long has your baking powder been open and did you shake it before you used it? It goes bad faster than baking soda, so it might not have been working. You definitely want to completely mix the baking soda into the buttermilk before adding it to the cornbread batter. You should see it start to bubble up. My warning was more so that you don’t add the soda to the buttermilk and then do everything else in the recipe because it will lose its leavening properties by the time it is incorporated in the batter. I know because I did this one time. Hope all that made sense!

    I hope you do make it again and thanks for the link love!

    ps- you whisk the eggs in quickly so they don’t scramble in the hot skillet. 🙂

      • Hi Lindsay!! I definitely will be trying the recipe again, and I’ll be following directions better 🙂 I love baking, but there’s still tons for me to learn. This was actually a really great experience because even though they didn’t turn out as perfect as yours look, I learned a lot that will help me in future recipes. The density probably was because of expired/unshaken baking powder (my mom doesn’t share my affinity for cooking- there are tons of things in my pantry that have probably been sitting for waaaay too long :P)

        Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, and for taking the time to read my post! I’m so glad Pinterest brought me to your blog; it’s wonderful! I followed, and I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

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