- 1 ½ cups self-rising cornmeal mix
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1 to 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 3 tbsp hot bacon grease (or other liquid fat like oil or melted shortening)
- About 2 tbsp oil for skillet
- About 2 tbsp melted butter (optional)
Brush iron skillet or cornbread pan with oil and place in oven while it preheats to 425 degrees. Stir together dry ingredients in medium bowl. Lightly beat egg in measuring cup and pour into bowl; measure and add grease/oil and 1 cup buttermilk, and fold liquid into dry mix gently. Add more buttermilk gradually until batter is pourable but not watery (you may not need the full amount). DO NOT OVERMIX. Remove skillet from oven and pour batter into pan, making sure it spreads evenly before it starts cooking (a silicone scraper is perfect for getting all the batter out of the bowl quickly). Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden on top and it begins to pull away from the sides. If desired, brush top with melted butter before serving.
This is as close to my Mom’s famous moist, dense cornbread as I can get; when she gave me her special cornbread pan (an iron skillet with 8 sections), I asked for her recipe and she said, “oh, about so much of this and so much of that….” So I had to play around with the ingredients several times to get it just right. She says the keys to successful southern cornbread are using the buttermilk for richness, pre-heating the pan to get a crispy crust, and not stirring the batter more than necessary.
(For a larger skillet, increase amounts to 2 cups mix, 1 ½ to 2 cups buttermilk, and 1/4 cup fat.)