This recipe is based on one from a long-ago issue of Cooks Illustrated. I love this cornbread—it doesn’t call for any grain but cornmeal (no wheat flour), so it’s got GREAT corn flavor and a fantastic dense, moist texture with a crispy crust that you will love. It’s not sweet, cakey, or fluffy, though—so if you like that kind of cornbread, you should stick with your regular recipe. The other reason I love this cornbread so much is because years ago, my mom gave me her grain grinder attachment for her KitchenAid Mixer (when she stopped making her own bread). So I can use absolutely freshly-ground cornmeal. I’ve read that it makes a difference to use freshly-ground corn, since cornmeal goes rancid quite quickly, and that gives it a bitter flavor. So… if you don’t have your own grain grinder, try to get the freshest cornmeal you can, and store it in the freezer, maybe—and use it up as quick as ever you can!
The original recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet, but I just use a regular 8-inch oven-proof skillet. When I want to make a bigger batch of cornbread, I make a double batch and bake it in my biggest skillet—it’s 11 inches across.
1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil (or, substitute all olive oil)
1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably freshly-ground or stone-ground
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup water (rapidly boiling)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or substitute half plain yogurt, half milk)
1 large egg , beaten lightly
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Measure 1/3 cup cornmeal into medium bowl. Mix remaining cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in small bowl; set aside.
3. Pour boiling water all at once into the 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a smooth, slightly thick mush. Add more boiling water if necessary to make a mush, rather than a stiff chunk. Whisk in buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps until smooth, then whisk in egg.
4. When oven is preheated, set 8-inch oven-proof skillet with butter and olive oil in heating oven. Let it heat for 5 or 10 minutes, until very hot and butter is completely melted.
5. Stir dry ingredients into cornmeal mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Pour hot fat from the skillet into the batter and stir to incorporate, then quickly pour batter into heated skillet. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and instantly turn cornbread onto wire rack; cool for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.