Serves a Crowd

Warm Custard Spoon Bread

December  9, 2010
6 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Growing up my mother would often make golden Johnnycakes for breakfast and after several moves I had lost the original recipe card that she had given to me. One morning, I was craving Johnnycakes and stumbled across this simple yet decadent breakfast dish in The Joy of Cooking: Custard Spoon Bread. After making it a few times, I incorporated a few changes and ingredients to make this my own recipe that I now share with others. This dish has quickly become a family favorite and I am now starting my own family holiday traditions with Warm Custard Spoon Bread at the helm. Serve with pure maple syrup and crispy bacon.
*cooking tip: I recommend using organic dairy and eggs to give it a richer flavor* - LocalSavour —LocalSavour

Test Kitchen Notes

A cross section of this layered dish reminds us of one of those sand jars you make in elementary school: the creamy white custard center is flanked by a sunny cornbread base and a paler cap of tender white cake scented enthusiastically (we think brilliantly) with nutmeg. A little vanilla keeps this from being entirely savory, and we agree with LocalSavour that it would be out of this world with a drizzle of maple syrup and some crispy bacon. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup stone ground corn meal (I use local Texas cornmeal)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 2 cups organic milk ( I use 2%)
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted organic butter + 2 teaspoons to grease your pan
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy organic cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place an un-greased 8x8-inch baking dish in the oven to warm.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients except the heavy cream. You will use the heavy cream at the end to finish off the dish.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and slowly stir until batter is smooth and free of lumps.
  5. Remove heated dish from the oven and add the remaining 2 teaspoons butter.
  6. Slowly scrape the batter into the heated and now buttered pan and set dish on the oven rack. With the dish in the oven, slowly pour the cream over the batter, without stirring.
  7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top layer is golden brown and a knife comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Taylor Marsh
    Taylor Marsh
  • Greatfallsdeb
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Miachel Pruett
    Miachel Pruett
  • sophiea

105 Reviews

Taylor M. February 28, 2021
I had never heard of spoon bread before and a friend of mine shared this recipe on Facebook so I gave it a try. I followed the directions exactly and wow! This is very delicious and like nothing I’ve had before. It’s like cornbread on the bottom, bread in the center, and custard on top. I like that it is a blank canvass. I only added a little maple syrup on top so it wasn’t too sweet for me. The texture is delightful. Very easy and delicious.
Emerc December 25, 2020
This was amazing....... I made this morning for Christmas breakfast, my kids devoured it with baked ham.... I will be adding this to my Christmas traditions . Thank you once again Food 52, you NEVER disappoint :)
Sandra E. November 8, 2018
After reading the other comments, I halved the baking powder, added a spoonful of sugar, and left the nutmeg out entirely. The batter is so thin, it's less a batter than a soup. I didn't think it would ever cook, let alone turn out anything like the picture, especially with the cup of cream you add at the end, but it did. I served it with maple syrup and bacon bits on top. It would have been too bland for my palate without the toppings, but with them, it's pretty tasty, and I like the melange of textures.

Next time, I might try it with melted butter and brown sugar on top instead of maple syrup, and with a second tablespoon of sugar in the batter.
Roxanne Z. January 16, 2015
This was horrible. It smelled horrible while baking and now every time I open the garbage where I "stored" it, it makes me ill. Way too muceh nutmeg and jsut a waste of ingredients,
jeanmarieok October 25, 2014
Just be careful pouring the batter into a hot pan - my pyrex exploded and made a HUGE mess. Must have been an occlusion or something in the dish. It was NOT the recipe!
Sara July 25, 2021
Pyrex these days is not what Pyrex’s was. Look or old proper borosilicate Pyrex fyi
christina January 8, 2014
I didn't have milk on hand nor did I have 2 cups worth of almond milk so I worked with what I had: 1 cup almond milk and 1 cup 0% fat greek yogurt (I want to think it made it more healthy). Also added 2 tablespoons of cane sugar. Ive never been to the south or had real spoonbread but I'm extremely happy with my version of it! Thanks for the recipe!
Cindie December 26, 2013
This is terrible- If you want real spoon- bread ask a southerner on how to make it - Real spoon bread is moist and flavorful. This is dry and weird with the addition of nutmeg and vanilla.
MartyE December 26, 2013
cindie, please if you are a southerner who knows how to make a good spoon bread please share your recipe with me. I have been looking for a recipe for 35 years at least. Had the first and best spoon bread in a Charlotte NC hospital 39 years ago. Wrote for the recipe and was informed that the chef had just passed away and his recipe went with him. Please share.
MartyE December 26, 2013
cindie, please if you are a southerner who knows how to make a good spoon bread please share your recipe with me. I have been looking for a recipe for 35 years at least. Had the first and best spoon bread in a Charlotte NC hospital 39 years ago. Wrote for the recipe and was informed that the chef had just passed away and his recipe went with him. Please share.
Cindie December 26, 2013
Sure- follow this link:
This is the best you will eat - I am from KY and this has been a staple at this tavern for years. Simple but perfect make sure you use white cornmeal and ENJOY!
LeBec F. December 26, 2013
cindie, thx so much for that link. it's exactly what my VA mom made all my life. no nutmeg or vanilla in the 'authentic' version (though riffing on recipes is no crime.)thx much again.marty plse make sure you use stone ground white cornmeal; NO quaker oats!
MartyE December 26, 2013
Thanks for the advice.
MartyE December 26, 2013
Thanks cindie, Can't wait to try it. And it has no flour which I can't have.
Alison17 May 18, 2023
The Joy of Cooking has the best recipe. I found it yesterday, but I am not sure where it went and I’m searching for it again today.
I’m not sure about the newer versions, but those from the 50s to the 70s should have it right.
Greatfallsdeb April 28, 2013
Tried this special occasion...just like to make special Sunday breakfast. It was wonderful! I would make this again anytime and especially for friends
The M. April 20, 2013
Just made this and it was amazing. I added a 1/4 cup of maple syrup into the batter. Yummy!
The M. April 20, 2013
I made this and it was amazing! I added 1/4 cup of maple syrup into the batter. Yummy!
LeBec F. April 6, 2013
My mom was a VA girl and this was always part of the big Sunday breakfast we had when we visitied her family in the country. They call it Batter Bread down there. It was always served with: scrambled eggs, country ham and bacon, fried apples, biscuits, gravy.After all that, you're either ready to take a nap or go out and plow the back forty!
Miachel P. December 6, 2012
I spotted this recipe in the food52 cookbook, and I just wanted to thank you!

As a fellow Southerner (and Austinite), I know a good custard is worth its weight in gold.
sophiea November 19, 2012
This is delicious! You could even serve it as a savory souffle for Thanksgiving dinner.
cindy_perkins_marlow March 25, 2012
I made this for brunch this morning and it was fantastic. Served it as suggested with bacon and maple syrup. This is a keeper and will find its way regularly to my brunch menu.
tREX December 1, 2011
Thank you for this; I have been trying to find a recipe similiar to a dish at a local Seattle restuarant called the Boat Street Kitchen. They do a "corn meal cake" that looks and sounds very much like this. Would you say that this is also close to Spider Cake? I have tried that, but have been disappointed with its dryness. I am very eager to see if this spoon bread will allow me to have the wonderful experience I have out at home. Thank you, I'll let you know how it compares.
Franca November 21, 2011
My kids and I sometimes have breakfast for dinner. Spoon bread not being familiar to us here in central Canada we decided to give it a go. It was very rich but oh so comforting especially with the cold weather now nipping at our heals. With a small drizzle of maple syrup (which we have plenty of in these parts) made this the perfect breakfast for dinner!
MartyE September 21, 2011
Years ago when I had my son in Charlotte nc I had some spoon bread there. I never forgot it. Years later, seriously years later I wrote asking for the recipe. They wrote me back telling me they knew exactly what I was asking for but the chef had retired and had recently passed away. The recipe was not available. I've been on a quest ever since. I will try yours.
jollygreenani May 13, 2011
LocalSavour- I have a question...I'm short on baking dishes at the moment, could I use a 9" glass Pyrex pie pan to bake in?
Food F. February 15, 2011
Wow, I am definitely making this in the coming days...Thanks for sharing!
janeinaustin February 1, 2011
Paul mentions sugar. So do I need to add it?
hardlikearmour February 1, 2011
I've made this twice now, and have not added sugar. With some maple syrup on top it doesn't need any added sugar IMO.
AntoniaJames February 1, 2011
The original Joy of Cooking recipe from which this is derived calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar. I've made this version (the recipe posted here) four times now, adjusting things here and there -- there's a foodpickle thread on baking powder, where I describe what I did and why -- and frankly, I think it's better with the sugar. The sugar doesn't really add sweetness, but it brings out the flavors of the corn and the cream (and the nutmeg). And the dish doesn't taste too sweet when served with maple syrup and bacon, as recommended by the Joy of Cooking editors (1979 edition). That just MHO. ;o) P.S. I also think it's much better with just the one teaspoon of baking powder, as called for in the JOC.
janeinaustin February 2, 2011
Thanks hardlikearmour---will give this recipe a try today.