Soups, salads, and barbecue make traditional partners for corn bread, but it goes with just about anything. Serve it with butter, apple butter, honey, jam, or even maple syrup.
All About Cornmeal
White, yellow, and blue corn kernels are dried and ground to make cornmeal. The various colors of cornmeal look different but taste similar and are interchangeable in baking. The grind can vary as well, including fine, medium, and coarse. Which one you choose is a matter of preference; however, the various grinds can affect the texture and thickness of the batter. If you like a crunchier, more crumbly corn bread, use coarse-ground. Fine cornmeal offers a more delicate-texture corn bread. You might see the words stone-ground on some packages. This means the corn meal is ground in the traditional way, which retains the germ. Keep in mind that stone-ground cornmeal, while more nutritious, has a shorter shelf life and should be refrigerated or frozen for longer storage.
How to Make Corn Bread
1. Mix the Dry Ingredients
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. While many baking recipes use a lower oven temperature, corn bread develops the desired slightly crispy sides and bottom best with a hotter oven.
- In a medium bowl stir together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup cornmeal, 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar, 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Set the bowl aside.
Tip: Cornmeal has a low gluten content (some is gluten-free), so for optimal texture, it is usually combined with wheat flour or another higher-gluten flour, as in this recipe.
Tip: The sweetness of your corn bread can suit your personal preference. Some like it sweet and cakelike, while others prefer no added sugar. We give a range of sugar options here.
2. Buttering the Pan
- For the pan, you can use an 8x8x2-inch baking pan (shown above), a 9x1-1/2-inch round baking pan, or a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.
- Instead of greasing the pan, add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and place it in the preheated oven for about 3 minutes or until the butter melts.
3. Mix Together the Batter
- In a small bowl beat 2 large eggs with a fork just until combined. Stir in 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture all at once. With a wooden spoon, stir just until combined. The batter will be lumpy. Overcome the urge to mix until smooth. Overmixing can cause the corn bread to peak and have tunnels, which can result in a tough texture.
- Place the pan back in the oven, rewarming it briefly if it has cooled down. With the pan on the oven rack, carefully pour the batter into the hot pan.
4. Bake and Serve
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
- With a serrated knife, cut the corn bread into 8 to 10 squares or wedges. Serve the corn bread warm. Or cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap or foil, place in a resealable plastic bag or storage container, and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Double Corn Bread: Prepare as above, except fold 1/2 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed, into the batter.
Green Chile Corn Bread: Prepare as above, except fold 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces) and one 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, drained, into the batter.
Corn Muffins: Prepare as above, except omit the 1 tablespoon butter. Spoon the batter into 12 greased 2-1/2-inch muffin cups, filling cups two-thirds full. Bake about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.
Corn Sticks: Prepare as above, except omit the 1 tablespoon butter. Generously grease corn stick pans and heat in the preheated oven for 3 minutes. Carefully fill heated pans two-thirds full. Bake about 12 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Makes 18 to 26 corn sticks.