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Classic Buttermilk Cornbread

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Serves 6 to 8

  • To learn more, read:
    How to Make Cornbread
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 107

This recipe take style cues from both Southern cornbread (baking in a hot, greased skillet), and Northern-style recipes (added flour and sugar). Since traditional cornbread can be dry, making a cornmeal mush and adding a little sour cream to the buttermilk go a long way toward a moist, tender crumb.

Leftover cornbread makes a flavorful and versatile base for stuffing. Use our Recipe Maker to create your own stuffing, flavored with anything from mushrooms and pine nuts to dried cranberries and sausage.

For more holiday-worthy sides visit The Guide to Thanksgiving Dinner.

  • 9 oz. (1-3/4 cups) medium-grind stone-ground yellow cornmeal, such as Bob’s Red Mill
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into a few pieces

Position a rack in the center of the oven and put a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch heavy-duty square or round metal baking pan (not nonstick) on the rack. Heat the oven to 425°F.

In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil over high heat. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the cornmeal and the boiling water. Stir to blend—the mixture should become a thick mush.

In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1-1/4 cups cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda to blend.

Add the buttermilk, sour cream, and eggs to the cornmeal mush and whisk to blend.

When the oven and pan are fully heated (after about 20 minutes), add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just blended. Do not overmix.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and add the butter pieces, tilting the pan to swirl the butter around until it’s melted and the pan is well coated. (The butter may brown; that’s fine.) Immediately pour the melted butter over the mixed batter and stir to combine—a half-dozen strokes with a wooden spoon should be plenty. Scrape into the hot pan.

Bake until the cornbread pulls away from the sides of the pan and is golden on top, 18 to 20 minutes. Immediately turn the bread out onto a rack. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Variations

Cornbread Mix-ins: While this classic cornbread is delicious in its own right, these simple additions add a little pizzazz:

  • Sauté 1/3 cup diced chorizo until crisp and fold into the batter along with the melted butter.
  • Add 1 cup of grated extra-sharp Cheddar to the wet ingredients.
  • Toast 1/4 cup pine nuts and add to the batter with the melted butter.
  • Mix 4 thinly sliced scallions with the wet ingredients.
  • Add 1 cup of sautéed thinly sliced leeks to the batter with the melted butter.
  • Add 3 Tbs. minced fresh jalapeño to the wet ingredients.
  • Add 1 cup fresh corn to the wet ingredients.
  • Add a few slices of cooked, crumbled bacon to the batter with the melted butter. You can also substitute 1 Tbs. bacon fat for 1 Tbs. of the butter.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 240; Fat (g): fat g 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 4; Protein (g): protein g 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 35; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 460; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 70; Fiber (g): fiber g 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Loved this recipe! I have tried many cornbread recipes - this one will be my lasting favourite, though I will add corn, peppers, bacon next time. Love the crust when done in a cast iron pan. The stone ground corn meal (Bob's Red Mill) really makes it! Great with a winter soup and then, the next morning, heated, with maple syrup on top!

This was excellent! I used Anson Mills cornmeal, 1/2 the sugar, as I don't like sweet cornbread, and substituted creme fraiche for the sour cream, as I had some. It was moist and tasty. I also added some Hatch chiles I wanted to use up - yummy!

Good, but not great. Lushous and rich but a bit dry and bland. Fairly easy to make.

I like the flavour of this recipe, but it's quite crumbly. Next time, I'll reverse the proportions of flour & cornmeal and see if that works. I suspect this would make a great topping for a gratin dish.

Great recipe for cornbread. I substituted oat flour for the all-purpose flour and made the recipe gluten free! It was slightly crumbly but tender and very tasty. This is going to become my standard recipe.

This was a unanimous "nay" at our house. We all found it dry.

Actually I would rate this as a 4 1/2 star because I found it to be a little on the bland side, but that is easily fixable with a little more salt and sugar. The biggest plus was that it was super moist thanks to the sour cream and buttermilk. I did not find it gritty or crumbly at all. In fact when we sliced into it the consistancy was exactly as cornbread should be. This is a definatly a new cold weather bread staple from now on.

I've made this cornbread recipe numerous times, halving the recipe and using an 8" cast-iron skillet for 2 and we usually end up eating the entire thing. It's a bit of a pain to make compared to conventional recipes, but it's worth it.

This is the way corn bread is supposed to be. I substitute stone ground whole wheat flour for the white flour to bump up the nutritional content - no problem. Green onions, coarsely grated strong cheddar cheese, some chipotle powder or jalapeño chillies added in. A great recipe that makes a corn bread with great texture. Travels well for camping trips. Yum yum if it gets there before the car ride is done......

Excellent recipe and the best cornbread I have ever made. My first attempt was a little bland and my wife suggested adding some more salt. A quarter of a teaspoon more did the trick. I used inexpensive, fine ground Publix meal and it was still great. Now I can't wait to try it with some of the suggested add-ins!

Wow, this was so gritty and we eventually crumbled it into the chili instead of just eating out of the pan. Fine Cooking recipes are always my first choice because we feel like we have a 98% success rate but this one will be deleted from my recipe box.

I love this recipe. I have made it the way the recipe reads and also by replacing the buttermilk/sour cream (both of which I rarely have) with yogurt (which I always have) with no apparent taste difference. I have also made it without doing the cornmeal mush part because I didn't read through the recipe and that tasted great too. I like the ratio of cornmeal to flour - way more corn taste than what to me is the more anemic cornbread with equal flour/cornmeal.

I made this last night and used whole fat buttermilk, and it was the best cornbread I've ever made. My friends devoured it. I'm not even sure why it's so special, but it is. I did add an extra splash of buttermilk based on the reviews.

I have made this three times, the third time was the charm. I found that it needed some additional moisture to be tasty (it was too dry for me). I increased the buttermilk to 1 and 1/4 cups and added an additional tablespoon of sour cream. To us that made a definite improvement. I might add even more next time

This was the best cornbread I have ever made. Stick to the recipe exactly. BUT I didn't have buttermilk but a scant less milk mixed with a tsp of lemon juice did the trick beautifully. Probably more perfect with the buttermilk though. The hot butter makes it perfection. This will be my go to cornbread recipe from now on.

So good! Definitely not the way my grandmother would have made it, but it was well worth the effort. I will certainly make this again.

Unlike others, I found this to be crumbly. I was very careful to not overmix. Even with all the steps, this is a cornbread I will make often.

I will not make this one again. I found it tasted like cornmeal mush and was too dense. It made me realize that cornbread for me needs to be on the crumbly side. Considering the steps involved here your old standard might be the better choice.

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