Published May 1, 1998.
Cornmeal mush gives the bread a strong corn flavor and a moist, fine texture.
Southern-style cornbread, made regularly by one of our editors who hails from the South, is traditionally made from white cornmeal, has only trace amounts of sugar and flour (if any), and, perhaps most important, is cooked in hot fat in a scorching hot cast-iron skillet.
We wondered if southern-style cornbread might have something to learn from northern-style cornbread (yellow cornmeal, fair to generous portions of flour and sugar, almost more of a cake than a bread). Our southern colleague looked dubious, but we decided to try and find out.
Start with yellow cornmeal for potent corn flavor. Add a small amount of sugar to enhance the natural sweetness of the corn. Make a cornmeal mush, which is made by stirring boiling water into the cornmeal. Cornbread that started with some mush had the most corn flavor we'd tasted yet, and it also produced a fine, moist crumb. Finish with buttermilk and an egg, and bake in a cast-iron skillet seasoned with bacon fat (or vegetable oil).list of recipes