When my husband was around 8 years old, he and his family moved from New York City to a small town in rural Kentucky. His babysitter, Edith, a Kentucky native, would bake unsweetened buttermilk cornbread, a staple of Southern cooking. This is my variation on Edith’s hand-written recipe, made with coarsely ground cornmeal rather than a self-rising mix.
It’s baked in an oil-filled skillet (I used olive oil) and broiled until golden brown and crisp on the outside. I didn’t have a small enough skillet on hand, so I used a 10-inch baking pan, and the cornbread turned out just fine. To add a touch of sweetness and honor its southern roots, I served the cornbread with peach jam, though any fruit preserves would do.
Southern-Style Buttermilk Cornbread
1 cup cornmeal
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼- ½ teaspoon salt (see note below)
½ cup water
¼ cup olive oil or other vegetable oil, for skillet or pan
Note: Unless you are a fan of salty cornbread, like my husband is, use the smaller amount of salt.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place olive oil in a 10-inch skillet or baking pan.
- In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir in buttermilk and water until just combined. Pour into prepared baking pan or skillet.
- Bake until set, for around 15-16 minutes if baking in a pan, and then broil for around 2-3 minutes, until the surface begins to turn golden brown.
- Remove from oven, and let cool in the baking pan or skillet. Run a knife around the edges to remove, and cut into pieces. Store leftovers in an airtight container; the cornbread is best eaten within a day or two.