Sometimes, authenticity is a big crock of dookie. Mom, if this makes you turn up your nose, so be it, but I've never made any "real cornbread" and now I doubt I ever will, because
1. Pete gave me a copy of The Food of a Younger Land which dwells with some emphasis on authentic cornbreads, in several forms, all of which sound perfectly appalling and
2. Cynthia's family recipe makes delicious cornbread.
Unlike the recipes in The Food of a Younger Land, which almost invariably call for lard or drippings of some kind, reject the addition of flour or sugar as heresy, and, depending on the age and poverty of the recipe's author, call for being cooked in hot ashes, on a used barrel stave, or the end of a farm implement with a grudging concession to cast iron skillets, the recipe for cornbread I now prefer is as follows:
1 c cornmeal- I used Bob's Red Mill medium grind, because every other brand came in huge packages.
1 c all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, whip in
1/4 c oil
1 c milk or 1 c water + 3/4 c dry milk. I did the latter, although I added the dry milk with the other dry ingredients.
Beat smooth, pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.
Pete recommends using an electric mixer to blend some air into the batter. I used a whisk, which was a bit of effort, and made a slightly coarser pore structure in the finished product due to the fact that the airbubbles were somewhat larger than ones made by a mixer. Also, since I don't have a small baking pan, you can see that I used my trusty enamelled skillet, which I pre-heated in the oven to make up for the fact that it's pretty heavy.
I do have a plain cast iron skillet. But just now I've about got it seasoned up the way I like, and I want to be able to fry my egg in it tomorrow morning before work.
1/4/11 - On a second try of this recipe, I think I must have recorded the amounts wrong or something. The batter came out too runny, so I added another handful each of flour and meal, and baked it somewhat longer than the recipe says. I think the liquid should be reduced by 1/4 cup.