I have a thing about cornbread. I used to work at a bakery that made the best cornbread ever. It was a Friday thing. They didn’t make cornbread any other day of the week, which was lucky because that meant I could only get it on Fridays, thereby limiting my consumption. I have no clue how they made it, and the bakery closed down years ago. I’ve been on the search for cornbread that good ever since. I still haven’t found it, but I think this recipe comes pretty close, with my tweaks.
Depending on how you make it and the type of cornmeal you use, cornbread can be sweet or not, really coarse and crumbly or more fine and cake-like. Of course, nowadays I need gluten-free cornbread, which is no problem as long as the recipe only uses cornmeal and doesn’t call for any flour. Turns out, that’s easier said than done if my online search for “cornbread recipe” is anything to go by. That’s why I latched onto this recipe–it’s made with just cornmeal, no flour required. I saw that it called for 1/3 cup of sugar, and I was looking for a savory cornbread recipe, but I figured I could always use less sugar, or none at all. I also didn’t have enough vegetable oil. You need a full cup for this recipe, and all I had in my pantry was 3/4 cup, so used 1/2 cup of melted butter instead of just 1/4 cup to compensate.
The main reason I wanted cornbread is because I was cooking a turkey and wanted to make dressing. I live in the south, and we make dressing with cornbread. At least, that’s what I grew up eating, and I really don’t like any other kind of stuffing/dressing. In order to make good dressing, you have to start with good cornbread. Trust me on this one. I once ate dressing that was made with sweet cornbread, and it did not taste good. Dressing is a savory dish, after all. One year, I tried making dressing using cornbread made from Bob’s Gluten Free Cornbread Mix, and because the cornbread itself had an aftertaste, so did the dressing it went in. But the superlative cornbread from Beckers (see note, below) always made such delicious dressing.
I baked this cornbread without any real expectation of greatness, but still hoping that it would taste good so my dressing would be edible. Thank goodness it’s delicious. The recipe yields 12 standard-size muffins, and three quickly disappeared before I even got the celery and onions started, so I had to tell the cornbread lovers of the house not to eat any more until I had the dressing made. Luckily, there were a few left over, but they didn’t last very long. The next day I got some more vegetable oil, and I decided to make the cornbread again, this time following the recipe exactly, and I didn’t like it quite as much. This is mostly because I used the full 1/3 cup sugar, and that made the cornbread a little sweet, which I don’t like. The second batch of muffins were less buttery, but I suppose that’s to be expected since I didn’t use as much butter.
I’m sorry for not having any pictures to post of the recipe in progress, but I honestly didn’t even think to take any. Besides, I wasn’t sure if this recipe would be blog-worthy, and I was far too busy with other things on the go in my kitchen at the time.
Also, the recipe calls for self-rising cornmeal, which I didn’t have. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I was able to figure out how to use regular cornmeal by adding baking powder and salt to it. If you use self-rising cornmeal, then stick with the quantities listed in the original recipe.
Cornbread Muffins (recipe tweaked from Southern Hands Cornbread)
2 cups + 2 teaspoons cornmeal
2 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon + a pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray the cavities of a 12-cup standard muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Combine the dry ingredients and whisk to blend. Make a well in the center.
- Beat together the eggs, oil, buttermilk, and melted butter. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until well blended.
- Pour into muffin pan and bake 15 minutes. They are delicious warm.
About Beckers: There is still a Beckers Bakery in the Nashville area, but that’s not where I worked and got the awesome cornbread from. I don’t know if the two bakeries shared recipes or not (they had different owners who were somehow related, I think), and I don’t know if the Beckers on Lebanon Pike even sells cornbread. I tried calling them to ask, but of course they’re closed until after New Years. Does anyone who lives on that side of town know?