The first time I ate cornbread down South, I was convinced that someone in the kitchen hadn’t performed their job properly. The texture was coarse and crumbly, while the taste was plain and bland. Up until that point in my life, I had only consumed sweetened Yankee cornbread and was completely unaware of the savory Southern variety. Even though it wasn’t love at first bite for unsweetened cornbread and me, I eventually learned to appreciate its rustic quality after a few more tries. While I still prefer the sugary stuff that I grew up on, old fashioned corn bread appeals to me in a different way.
This recipe was clipped from a package of cornmeal years ago by The Astronomer’s mother, a native of Tennessee. While the recipe specifies that butter or shortening can be employed, The Astronomer’s mother insists on using only bacon fat because it yields a gorgeous golden crust and an unbeatable smoky taste.
- 2 tablespoon bacon fat, butter, or shortening
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 3 slices of bacon, cooked but not crispy (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spoon the bacon fat into a cast iron skillet and place it into the preheated oven. While the skillet is in the oven, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the honey, egg, buttermilk, and bacon (if using) into the cornmeal mixture and incorporate well. Lastly, add the heated bacon fat into the batter and pour the batter into the heated skillet.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crusty. Serve warm with butter and honey.
Serves 4 to 6.