Yesterday I made a Skillet Cornbread that I had not made in years. I was multi-tasking and did not read very carefully. When mixing the dry ingredients together, I put all of them into the bowl. When I read on, I found that I was supposed to mix the baking soda with the buttermilk before mixing the other ingredients. It was only 1/4 tsp., so I did add more baking soda to the buttermilk, not knowing whether or not it would make the buttermilk a bit "lively". I know that 1/4 tsp. isn't much, but what would extra baking soda do to a recipe?

bella s.f.


thirschfeld December 8, 2010
All batters will thicken if they sit because the grains are hydrating. I actually let the batter rest for 20 minutes before it goes into the screaming hot cast iron. I find that the end result is a cornbread that is more tender and moist. The other big question is white cornmeal or yellow? I have always understood white cornmeal to be more traditional but personally I like yellow better.
Nora December 8, 2010
I always thought that adding soda to a recipe with buttermilk was to help with leavening. If was moister bread, I'd think of adding a second egg and/or a little more buttermilk. My dad's description was to add buttermilk until the batter had the "consistency of thick cream." I've noticed that if I mix the batter and then leave it sitting for long (when I've forgotten to turn the oven on, for instance. Duh!), it thickens, so check that.

Amen, Kayb.
nutcakes December 7, 2010
Bella, interesting! Yes, i guess you added too much soda overall. I like that recipe. I'm not even going to get into authentic or not. I prefer this kind.
Kayb December 7, 2010
I am of the opinion it is not REAL cornbread if (a) it has sugar, (b) it does not have bacon grease both in it and used to heat up in the skillet to provide the crispy crust.

Cracklings help, too!
innoabrd December 7, 2010
bacon grease makes it authentic! And good!

My wife makes cornbread like this. Was a family staple when she was growing up and making cornbread was one of the chores she and her sister traded off. My wife grew up mostly in San Diego, but her father is from Georgia and her mother from the part of Florida that's so far north, it's the South.

I, on the other-hand grew up with sweet cornbread, made by my Jewish grandmother...kind of like a goy talking about the chicken soup his mother used to make...
thirschfeld December 6, 2010
I developed a recipe years ago and I use 1/2 teaspoon of soda and baking powder. I heat 4 tablespoons of bacon grease heated for 12 minutes in a 400 degree oven and then pour the batter into the hot pan for a nice crispy bottom.
bella S. December 6, 2010
Nutcakes, I went to your link. That is the same recipe that I used. Years ago, I had copied the recipe before I gave the book to my father-in-law, and used that copy yesterday. I just found the book and found what you kindly wrote. I suppose, the fact that I added 1/4 tsp. to the buttermilk as well as to the dry ingredients, the texture was changed a bit. I will experiment next time. Just went and had a taste, actually quite a few tastes. The flavor and texture are great, but it is dry. Tomorrow, may be the day for cornbread stuffing.
nutcakes December 6, 2010
I use Crescent Dragonwagon's Dairy Hollow House Skillet Sizzled Buttermilk Cornbread. She stirs the bp into the buttermilk. Others do this to neutralize the taste. But she makes this note:

When we were making dinners just for guests at the Inn, Ned because a cornbread baker par excellence. He felt dissolving the soda wes fussy and instead he sifted it into the other dry ingredients. It's amazing how this small change gives such a different texture; my bread is moist but also denser. His is higher and lighter but a tad drier. The truth is that they are both good.
bella S. December 6, 2010
Thanks folks. cheater chef, somehow I did not see your answer up above when I responded above, although I did answer your leavening question without seeing it. I do not know if it was self-rising cornmeal, because it had been transferred to a jar quite a while ago. (O.K. I think that I can hear some of you saying that perhaps the cornmeal was too old.) The batter, however was thick and a bit frothy. I needed a rubber spatula to scrape it into the skillet, but it was not clumpy. I do want to try and make it a tad moister next time. Nora, I am not from the South. The recipe was in a Country Inn Soup and Bread Cookbook from 1992. I had given it to my father-in-law years ago, partially in the hope of getting him to stop using certain products, one of which was Jiffy Cornbread Mix. (I was not successful.) This particular recipe was someone's attempt to re-create the cornbread someone from Georgia made. The person said that she could not give out the recipe, but admitted that she did use buttermilk and just a little sugar. The recipe does have 1 C. of all-purpose flour and 1 C. of stone-ground cornmeal. I definitely will check out your cornbread dressing recipe. One of the other reasons that I made the cornbread, was to make some (here's the non-Southern part) cornbread stuffing for cornish game hens or chicken. I love the fact that the bottom crust never made it into the dressing. The bottom and the sides would probably not make it into mine.
AntoniaJames December 6, 2010
Nora, I so hear you on the no sugar point. Samuel Clemens is reported to have said once, "If God wanted cornbread to have sugar in it, he'd have called it 'cake'". ;o)
bella S. December 6, 2010
Thanks hardlikearmour. The recipe called for 1 1/2 C. of buttermilk with just 1/4 tsp. of baking soda. It did have 1 T. of baking powder. It was very good. Actually what I like the best is the crispy crust resulting from the butter melted in the cast iron skillet before adding the batter. I do not have a test memory of what the cornbread was like when I used to make it fairly frequently. That is going back over ten years. Somehow the recipe had fallen under the radar. I just had an urge yesterday, thinking that it would go well with slow oven- braised ribs and baked beans. It did go nicely. I think that it was a bit dry however. The only other liquid was 1 egg and 1/4 C. of "mild" oil I used canola. I guess that I should look at some other recipes and perhaps adjust the proportions to make it a atd moister.
Nora December 6, 2010
Are you from the South? I am, and I'm so glad someone is making skillet cornbread, meaning no sugar and no white (or other) flour. Yay! May I suggest you check my cornbread dressing recipe? It begins with making skillet cornbread as my daddy taught me. When I made it for this past Thanksgiving, I left the bottom crust out of the dressing mix so my sister and I could eat it bit by bit as we cooked.
cheater C. December 6, 2010

You can smell too much soda. Don't think this matters much at your low level. Was there other leavening? Most folks in the South use self-rising corn meal mix so this is never a problem. More important issue when making cornbread is that the batter be creamy and pourable. Clumpy dry batter equals dry cornbread.
hardlikearmour December 6, 2010
It takes about 1/2 tsp of baking soda to neutralize 1 cup buttermilk. If there is too much soda in the recipe it can result in an off taste - chemicalish. I wouldn't think an extra 1/4 tsp would be enough to be noticeable. How did your bread turn out?
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