Tuesday, February 20, 2024

CWC'S Mighty Fine Cornbread, My Way

A tender cornbread made using self-rising cornmeal and flour with butter and buttermilk, based on Cooking with Cajun's famed cornbread.
A tender cornbread made using self-rising cornmeal and flour with butter and buttermilk, based on Cooking with Cajun's famed cornbread.

Mighty Fine Cornbread

Just like everybody else, when I have a minute (or more like I'm trying to avoid work ssshh...) I get lost in shorts and reels on social media. For me, mostly that's videos of gorgeous strutting Maine Coon cats, rehabilitating horses and other rescued animals, goofy stunts people actually do, food videos and viral recipe hacks.

There is a fella with a page called Cooking with Cajun. Originally from South Central Louisiana around the Atchafalaya swamps, but a resident of the Ozark mountain region of North Arkansas since 2015, where he pretty much lives off the grid. He has an outdoor cooking set up where he cooks everything over open fire and he does an incredible job doing it too. You'll find him everywhere - Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube - check him out sometime!

He often features a What We Cooked Today live segment and it's the common usuals we all love in this region - venison, jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, roasted and fried chicken, cabbage, biscuits, even peach cobbler and all that sort of thing.

The one thing that he's probably most famous for though is his cornbread.
Just a quick reminder.... as always, full recipe text with measurements and instructions, as well as a printable document, are a little bit further down the page. Just swipe or scroll past the step-by-step pictures below.
Now... let's be real here.

He does have a rather "unusual" name for his cornbread and if you're familiar with him you know what that is. Offensive to some, defended by others, I'm just gonna stay out of that debate.

One day I thought that I'd give his cornbread version a try though!

Now, I love the cornbread I featured in my cookbook (#ad) made with stone ground cornmeal, as well as the slightly different recipe here on the website, but after multiple makes and a few personal adjustments, this has fast become a favorite too! I've settled on just calling mine Cooking with Cajun's Mighty Fine Cornbread instead of, well, what he calls his.

When I first watched a video of him making his cornbread, he wasn't very specific about the kind of cornmeal he was using other than self-rising cornmeal. Everything on the shelf these days seems to be a self-rising cornmeal (or cornbread) mix and frankly just self-rising cornmeal is a little difficult to find!

At first I used Old School brand (#ad) stone ground self-rising cornmeal that I had ordered from Amazon and had on hand, but I continued to keep checking for regular self-rising cornmeal at my local stores and finally Martha White's self rising cornmeal (not cornmeal mix) was back in stock. Eventually that's what I used for my remakes.

In the video I watched, he also only used 3/4 cup of buttermilk against 1 cup of cornmeal and 1-1/4 cup flour, though he added another splash before pouring the batter in the open fire heated skillet. I just did not find that to be enough for my taste and eventually leaned more toward a full 2 cups.

All that to say that the amount of buttermilk you need will depend on both the type of buttermilk you are using as well as the grind of the cornmeal you use.

He also uses a full stick of melted butter in the cornbread and another half stick in the skillet, but I think that increasing the buttermilk is sufficient to allow a slight reduction in the added fat.

I was also a little skeptical about the use of honey in a standard cornbread.

Don't get me wrong. Besides the typical southern-style cornbread, I make a few other different varieties and I even have my own honey jalapeno cornbread I love, so I approve!

However some folks are rough on others for using any kind of sugar anytime in a cornbread.

His reasoning is that it doesn't really add much sweetness but rather contributes to the moisture, along with that heavy butter. I think some folks like to use a little sweetness, typically table sugar, to counter what can be harshness of a commercial cornmeal - even if they never tell anybody. I enjoyed my version with 2 tablespoons of honey and the finished cornbread didn't come across as sweet to me.

The rest of everything else is pretty standard. Buttermilk is better than milk. Heated cast iron skillet. Some kind of melted fat in the cornbread and in the skillet.

Here's how to make my version of Cooking with Cajun's Mighty Fine Cornbread.

Self-rising cornmeal, self-rising flour, butter, eggs, buttermilk and honey are what you need.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Add dry 10-inch cast iron skillet to oven to preheat.

Set aside 2 tablespoons of the butter for the skillet, melt the remainder. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in center.

Add buttermilk, honey, if using and eggs into the well of the cornmeal and flour. The total amount of buttermilk will depend on the type of buttermilk you're using as well as the grind of the cornmeal you're using, so start with a cup and add more a little at a time once you've mixed everything together.

Blend all of that together first in the well, before drawing in the cornmeal and flour mixture.

Add the melted butter. I keep unsalted on hand the most so that's what I'm using here, but there's salt in the self-rising flour and cornmeal and that seems to cover that!

Blend in the butter and add more buttermilk if needed. The consistency should be somewhat thick, but pourable, as pictured.

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and add the 2 tablespoons of reserved butter. Swirl it around.

Pour batter into the hot skillet.

Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Test center with toothpick. Place skillet on a rack to cool for 15 minutes.

Loosen cornbread around edges of the skillet first, then use a spatula under cornbread to ensure it is loose. If your skillet is well seasoned you should have no sticking. Carefully invert cornbread onto a plate, then turn top side up if desired.

For more of my favorite cornbread recipes, check out the collection on my Pinterest page.

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Posted by on February 20, 2024
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