That’s right. When I was just nine years old, I was the winner of the Florence (SC) County 4-H corn muffin contest. It was my first competition of any sort and at age nine, a great beginning to my 4-H career.
I no longer make muffins, just good old-fashioned cornbread. The kind you bake in a cast iron skillet, though you could use a glass casserole dish or a metal cake pan–I’ve done both with success. But nothing quite compares to cast iron for cornbread.
These days, we make our cornbread with home ground meal from our homegrown Painted Mountain*corn. This corn is so pretty you can just use it for decoration. But it sure would be a shame to miss out on its delightful taste (though when we hang the ears up to dry in our bedroom, we keep them there for months for the sheer joy of admiring them).
Our grinder is pretty basic so our meal has a coarse texture that adds a delightful chewiness. If you have the chance to try this recipe with a coarsely ground meal, do! Otherwise, use what you can buy at your favorite grocer’s. I won’t judge. It’s a great complement to soup.
Carole’s Prize-Winning Cornbread
Preheat oven to 400.
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-4 Tablespoons sugar (optional, but …)
- 4 Tablespoons melted butter
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
Melt butter in your skillet or other pan while oven is preheating.
Meanwhile, sift and mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. (Note: we never sift. It works out fine.)
In smaller bowl, combine all liquid ingredients except butter.
Swirl melted butter to cover bottom and sides of your baking dish, then pour remainder into other liquid ingredients.
Stir liquid ingredients into dry ones.
Bake about 25 minutes or until toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean.
* Painted Mountain corn is an open-pollinated corn and can be purchased from Territorial Seed Company, Johnny’s Seeds, Baker’s Heirloom Seeds and other seed companies.