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Cornbread is a common bread in United States cuisine, particularly associated with the South and Southwest, as well as being a traditional staple for populations where wheat bread was prohibitively expensive.

Left: Home baked cornbread made with blue and yellow cornmeal.

In some parts of the South it is crumbled into a glass of cold buttermilk and eaten with a spoon, and it is also widely eaten with barbecue and chili con carne. In rural areas of the southern United States cornbread is a common side dish, often served with homemade butter, chunks of onion or scallions. Cornbread crumbs are also used in some poultry stuffings; cornbread stuffing is particularly associated with Thanksgiving turkeys.

In the United States, Northern and Southern corn bread are different because they generally use different types of corn meal and baking techniques. A preference for sweetness and adding sugar or molasses can be found in both regions, but saltier tastes are sometimes more common in the South, and thus favor the addition of frying the bread with such additions as cracklins. Sometimes, cornbread is crumbled and served with cold milk similar to cold cereal. In Texas, the Mexican influence has spawned a hearty cornbread made with fresh or creamed corn kernels, jalapeño peppers and topped with shredded cheese.

Skillet-baked cornbread (often simply called skillet bread or hoecake depending on the container it's cooked in) is a traditional staple of rural cuisine in the United States, especially in the Southern United States which involves heating bacon drippings, lard or other oil in a heavy, well-seasoned cast iron skillet in an oven, and then pouring a batter made from cornmeal, egg and buttermilk directly into the hot grease. The mixture is returned to the oven to bake into a large, crumbly and sometimes very moist cake with a crunchy crust. This bread will tend to be dense, meant more as an accompaniment than as a bread meant to stand on its own. In addition to the skillet method, such cornbread can also be made in sticks, muffins or loaves.

A slightly different variety, cooked in a simple baking dish, is associated with northern US cuisine; it tends to be sweeter and lighter than southern-style cornbread. A typical contemporary northern U.S. cornbread (referred to in the South as "Yankee Cornbread") recipe contains half wheat flour, half cornmeal, milk or buttermilk, eggs, leavening agent, salt, and usually sugar, resulting in a bread that is somewhat lighter and sweeter than its more traditional southern counterpart. In the border states and parts of the Upper South, a cross between the two traditions is known as "light cornbread."

Baked cornbread is a quick bread that is dependent on an egg-based protein matrix for its structure (though the addition of wheat flour adds gluten to increase its cohesiveness). The baking process gelatinizes the starch in the cornmeal, but still often leaves some hard starch to give the finished product a distinctive sandiness not typical of breads made from other grains.

Cornbread Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup white flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

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Recipe Cooking and Preparation Method

  1. Mix water, yeast and sugar. Let this sit for a few minutes until it bubbles.

  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, adding water until it is pourable.

  3. Bake in a greased 9x9 pan at 350F (175C, gas mark 4) for 25 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown.


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