Civil War reenactors need only mention cornbread for an actual battle to ensue.
Oddly, it's in the land of sweet tea and Moon Pies that cornbread made with sugar is heresy.
To Southerners, Yankee cornbread is cake (and since cake is layered sky-high with rippling seas of icing, it's a boring and pointless one at that).
To Northerners, Dixie cornbread is as dense and appealing as a paperweight.
We could agree to disagree, staying on our respective sides of the Mason-Dixon line, but I have a feeling that we all want the same thing: a toothsome, golden bread that showcases corn's earthy sweetness and stands proud with everything from catfish to collards to chili.
A slightly sweet, mostly savory cornbread that grants you an excuse to fry some bacon or to use some drippings from the jar in your freezer?
Call it a tasty truce.
Makes a 9- to 10-inch round
Slightly adapted from Sara Foster's Fresh Every Day
- 2 Tbsp. bacon grease or olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups yellow stone-ground cornmeal (I use half fine-ground and half coarse-ground)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 9- or 10-inch cast-iron skillet with your fat of choice (as if you really have a choice) and place it in the preheated oven.
Meanwhile, stir the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter, blending with a rubber scraper until just combined. Do not overmix or you will be marked a traitor by both sides.
Remove the hot skillet from the oven. Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven to bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until the color of real gold.
Allow the cornbread to rest for five minutes or so before cutting it into wedges (we all know that squares are for cake).