There are probably as many recipes for cornbread as there are people. Well, at least as many as there are people in the southern part of North America. I chose the following recipe because it was the one I had in mind when I wrote my novel, The Secrets of Dr. John Welles.
The year is 1907. For the three oldest Welles children, Stanley, James, and Eunice, December will hold an extra surprise this year. They will receive an early Christmas presents in the form of a new baby brother. Each has an opinion on whether or not another sibling is a good thing for their family.
After the three children get a peek at their baby brother, the midwife, Collie Mercer, sends them off to do their chores. Collie is a brusque, but kind woman, who makes sure the children have food in their stomachs before heading out into the cold. She directs them to cornbread and buttermilk on the kitchen table with the promise of a real breakfast once they return from the barn.
I love this recipe because it is rich and moist. Usually, I serve it with butter and honey, but the recipe is also good with the inclusion of herbs or spices, cheese, green onions or chiles; whatever you choose to add to make it your own. It is great crumbled up in chili, soaking up the broth from brown beans, or toasted and served with apple butter.
Collie Mercer’s Cornbread
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar (I use raw)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, and butter.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the cornmeal mixture and fold together until there are no dry spots (the batter will still be lumpy). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
Bake until the top is golden brown and tester inserted into the middle of the corn bread comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the cornbread from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.