The further south you go, the more opinions you will find about who makes the best corn bread. I live far enough south to know better than to claim anything other than this is the version that my family likes and that this is definitely not true southern corn bread. Mine is more of a mid-Atlantic truce, cooked in a cast iron skillet the way anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line would do but with a touch of sweetness in the style of New England (though definitely not like some of the northern corn breads I’ve had that are really just cake masquerading as a dinner side dish). I like to make mine with a medium to coarse grain corn meal (Bob’s Red Mill polenta is good here) for the toothsome quality it gives the final product, but you can use what you prefer. You can also increase the sweetness, if you’d like, by adding a couple tablespoons of either white or brown sugar.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal/polenta
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup full-fat/whole buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a 10″ skillet set on the stove top, melt the butter over low heat. Alternately, you can put the skillet and butter in the oven while the oven heats, but make sure you keep an eye to make sure the butter doesn’t start smoking if you end up taking a while to get the other ingredients together.
2. While the butter melts, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, eggs, and maple syrup. Pour the bowl of wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to stir then together until just incorporated. Don’t overmix this- a few lumps are totally fine.
3. Pour the batter into the skillet and then drizzle the cream on top, if using. Bake until golden and lightly crisped just around the edges, 15-20 minutes (the timing will partially depend on how hot your skillet was when you poured the batter in). Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes before serving.
What to do with leftover corn bread? It’s great toasted and slathered with jam, butter, or honey for breakfast. You can also use stale cornbread for stuffing or croutons.