When I was a nine-year-old newly minted 4-H Club member, one of my first activities was to enter the county corn muffin contest. Placing first in that contest was a sure way to cement my relationship with 4-H. It also cemented my relationship with cornbread. I’ve made this recipe hundreds of times since then, and it always gets rave reviews.
These days, we grow and grind our own corn.
We use this relatively inexpensive grinder for our corn.
For cornbread, we grow Painted Mountain corn. It’s cold hardy, drought tolerant, and performs well in our short growing season. All of these reasons are important for our unpredictable weather and erratic seasons. But that’s not why we chose this corn. We selected it for its sheer beauty. Its ears sport the most brilliant colors you’ve ever seen in corn, so if you have extra (extra?), Painted Mountain corn can become a gorgeous element in your fall decorating.
You can't beat Painted Mountain corn for beauty. It makes a fine batch of cornbread, too.
Using home ground corn, especially corn as colorful as Painted Mountain, to make cornbread adds texture and a unique color, which makes it even better in my opinion. But don’t worry. You don’t have to go to all that trouble for delicious cornbread if you don’t want to. You can buy your meal at the grocery store and it will turn out just fine. My store bought preference is yellow cornmeal, but that’s probably only because it’s what I grew up with.
I also like to bake cornbread in a cast iron skillet, but an 8x8" glass or metal baking dish works almost as well.
Cornbread is the perfect complement to a fish supper. It also perfectly rounds out a meal of soup, chili, or salad. Or you could try my grandfather's cornbread-eating trick: dip it in a glass of cold buttermilk. It was his favorite breakfast, lunch, or supper.
Carole's Prize-Winning Cornbread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• 1 cup cornmeal
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 to 4 Tablespoons sugar (see note)
• ¼ cup melted butter
• 1 ¼ cups milk
• 2 eggs, beaten
1. Melt butter in your skillet or baking pan while oven is preheating.
2. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3, In smaller bowl, combine all liquid ingredients except butter.
4. Swirl melted butter to cover bottom and sides of your baking dish, then pour remainder into other liquid ingredients.
5. Stir liquid ingredients into dry ones.
6. Bake about 25 minutes or until toothpick or sharp knife inserted near center comes out clean.
7. Slice and serve hot with a pat of butter.
Cornbread made with Painted Mountain corn
The original recipe called for ¼ cup sugar. (Maybe that’s why I won!) It’s almost like dessert. But for those who don’t like that much sweetness in their cornbread, the amount of sugar can be halved. You can reduce the sugar even further, if you prefer.
Painted Mountain corn is an open-pollinated variety and can be purchased from Territorial Seed Company, Johnny's Seeds, Baker's Heirloom Seeds and other seed companies.
Carole Coates is a gardener and food preservationist, family archivist, essayist, poet, photographer, modern homesteader. You can follow her Mother Earth News blog posts by following this link. You can also find Carole at Living On the Diagonal where she shares her take on life, including modern homesteading, food preparation and preservation, and travel as well random thoughts and reflections, personal essays, poetry, and photography.
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