Cast-iron Cornbread: Comfort Food 101


I am not a southerner. I did not grow up with my mom cooking in a cast iron skillet. In fact, my European mother’s cooking was so far from the south that I finally tasted grits in my twenties and just recently, (a few months ago), had a friend show me how to make chicken and dumplings. I have spent a good deal of my life in the south and I have learned all sorts of things that southerners do that I love, and that includes cooking cornbread in a cast iron skillet.

My mother-in-law was having a garage sale about 20 years ago and that is where I picked up my cast iron skillet. When I held it in my hand, it was a foreign object. Now, through the years it has become comfortable. The thing about the cast iron skillet is that whatever you make in it, it rewards you with a feeling of contentment that you don’t get from a frying pan. It reminds me of roots: not my roots but good ol’ southern families gathered in the kitchen kind of roots.

I make many things in my cast-iron skillet and cornbread is a favorite in my house.  Here is my recipe that I have tweaked from multiple over the years:

Skillet Corn Bread

3 eggs

½ cup sugar

1 ½ cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

2 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cup buttermilk –(I never have buttermilk so I add 1tbsp lemon juice to milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. This does the same thing.)

1/3 cup melted butter

1 tsp butter


Preheat oven to 350F. Place skillet in oven to heat up.

While skillet is heating, beat eggs with sugar until blended.

In a separate bowl, mix together with a whisk : flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to the egg-sugar mixture. Stir after each addition.

Stir in melted butter.

Remove skillet from oven and melt the reserved 1 tsp butter in it. Be sure to coat all sides.

Increase oven temp to 400F.

Pour batter in warm/hot skillet. Bake for 30 minutes or until top begins to brown. Put toothpick in center. If it comes out clean, it is done.

You don’t have to be southern to enjoy southern cooking. Delicious!

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