Find out my secret to getting super tender, mildly sweet and buttery cornbread! You’re going to fall in love with this family recipe! Get your pans ready and let’s start baking!
Cornbread is a staple in my house in the winter. It’s the perfect accompaniment to hearty chili, pulled pork and fried chicken. It makes for an amazing stuffing and fried up pieces of deliciousness in the morning. Just dip each nugget in an egg bath like you would for French toast and when done, drizzle with maple syrup! Mmm mmm mmm! Delish! Now before I go any further, this apparently is a northern version of cornbread. I’m told that “no self-respecting southerner sweetens their cornbread”. Okay.. more for me! I’ve made it without the sweetness and it just tastes bland to me.
Sure some southern versions will add cheese and or jalapenos for a savory version. But I have to ask if you a savory version is okay, why isn’t a sweetened version? *blink blink blink* Shrugs. Anyway, when my grandma (and Mom) made cornbread they sweetened it so that’s what I did. I’ve taken their recipes and changed it slightly as even theirs was coarse, not really soft and tender. It was delicious but kind of mealy from the cornmeal. That’s a texture I don’t care for. It kind of reminds me of sand. Blech.
I want cornbread that is soft, tender and has that buttery goodness that just melts in your mouth. And that’s exactly what you get with this recipe. As long as I can remember cornbread in my house was made from scratch. Mom and Grandma never bought the 49cent boxed stuff (though truth be told, is pretty tasty in a pinch when you doctor it up!). This, like many of my family’s recipes, weren’t written down which means it took me many, MANY, test batches (and failures) to finally perfect it.
Thank GOD Mr. Fantabulous never grows tired of hearing “Honey, can you try this?” over and over, often multiple times a day. He would always say “It’s not like my Mom’s. Call her find out her recipe.” Yeah her recipe – the boxed. LOL Well that didn’t help me. It honestly wasn’t until it was in the middle of winter here a few years back where it was -17F below zero without the wind chill and nothing was warming us up. I decided to whip up a big batch of chili. As it was cooking Mr. Fantabulous said “Oh honey, can you make some corn bread with it? You bought the boxed stuff, right?” Um….. See I don’t believe in lying so I couldn’t say “Of course baby” so instead I played deaf. I know, that’s horrible but I didn’t want to disappoint. I figured this would be my one last chance to make the cornbread like my Mom & Grandma did.
Out came the bowls however I got distracted and started putting the ingredients together “out of order” and put honey and sugar in it. I dumped the cornmeal and the buttermilk in a container and went to finish making it but then the phone rang and the cornmeal sat in the milk for a few. By the time I went to finish making it, the cornmeal was “mushy” and didn’t look too good but as my luck would have it, that was all I had in the house. At that point I was frustrated, hungry and just threw it all together and baked it.
When it was done I did like my Mom and Grandma did – drizzled both butter and honey on top and let it soak in. Once it was cool enough I sliced up a few pieces and plated us two bowls of chili. As we ate I was rather silent as I honestly had no clue how or if the cornbread would turn out. He put a little more butter on his and took a big bite. I swear I held my breath. He was watching tv and often doesn’t pay attention to how stuff tastes. It takes a lot for him to stop and really think about what he’s eating.
He did that with this cornbread.
His eyes went from the tv to look at his cornbread then at me. He swallowed and said, “Honey… is this the boxed stuff???” I kind of did that doe-eyed Bambi look and said: “Why honey?” He said “Man I don’t ever remember Mom’s being this good. What did you add? It’s incredible!”
I just smiled and then took my bite of the cornbread. OMG, I DID IT! I replicated my family’s recipe but in a better way. It wasn’t grainy or mealy but rather so soft and tender. And that honey butter… OMG! I said “No honey, it’s my family’s recipe. I finally nailed it. You know me, I don’t do boxed stuff.” And as soon as I said that I grabbed my notepad (I always have a notepad in the kitchen when I cook) and started to write down everything that went into that recipe and in what order. Then I realized the secret to making this so tender and not mealy…
If you soak the cornmeal in the buttermilk first, it makes it so tender and removes the ‘grit’!
The very next day I ran out and bought more cornmeal just to ensure that I captured the recipe notes down right. I cannot tell you how much it means to me when I can recreate a family recipe that I’ve had a thousand times just from taste memory. It’s not so much about nailing the recipe but more so the memories that come flooding back to me with each and every bite. This single recipe brings me so much joy and fills my heart with love.
It reminds me of those winter nights when it was so cold and our neighbors would right their trucks over to our place through the feet of snow. Mom would have a HUGE pot of her chili on the stove top and 2 trays of her cornbread in the oven. Dad would have oldies or Christmas music on in the living room and we’d all gather in my kitchen laughing and singing away. Mom would set up a buffet station on the far wall that was nothing more than an old dresser covered in a vinyl table cloth. At the beginning were bowls, silverware, and napkins. She’d have a salad or some side dish, the huge pot of chili followed by a bowl of cheese, onions and whatever other toppings you wanted. Next was a platter of the warmed cornbread and lastly was always a few bowls of chips. On the other wall were the drinks.
And on the table – each end had their own butter bowl and jar of honey. We’d eat, laugh and finally clear off the table. Soon the cards would come out and we’d play poker or pinochle. 2 hours later it was an intermission and we’d eat all over again. It was such amazing quality time with family and friends. It’s funny when folks ask what you want when you grow old. My answer is always the same – to have a house like my parents did. Where everyone that walked through that door was family. Where no one went hungry or unloved. Where you had a true sense of neighborhood. And…to be surrounded by delicious food.
Do you have foods like mine that spark amazing memories?Print
- 9 Tbl butter, unsalted and melted
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2 xl eggs. room temperature
- 1 cup AP flour
- 1 cup corn meal, fine crumb
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 Tbl honey, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350F, rack in the middle. Spray a 9×9 glass baking pan, set aside.
- In a bowl, add the buttermilk and corn meal. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl whisk together 8 Tbl melted butter and sugar.
- Add in the eggs and 3 Tbl honey and whisk until combined.
- In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Pour the milk/cornmeal mixture into the egg mixture and stir with a large spoon.
- Once combined, add in the dry mixture and stir just until combined. You don’t want to over mix it to form gluten.
- Pour the mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 28-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
- While the pan is still hot, pour the remaining 1 Tbl of melted butter evenly over top.
- Next drizzle on the remaining 3 Tbl of honey and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
- Store in an air tight container.
It is totally acceptable to drizzle more honey and or butter on top once it’s done baking. Go with what you like!