White cornmeal is used in most Southern cornbreads, but we could not find any here in California, so we used yellow cornmeal. If you can find white cornmeal, by all means use it.
The egg is optional, though without it the cornbread will be very crumbly.
- 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
- 2 cups cornmeal OR 1 1/2 cups cornmeal and 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
- 1 large egg (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Preheat pan with bacon drippings: Put the bacon drippings in a 9 or 10-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet and put the skillet into the oven. Then preheat the oven to 400°F with the skillet inside. (If you don't have an iron skillet, you can use an uncovered Dutch oven or a metal cake pan.)
2 Make the batter: Whisk together all the dry ingredients (cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar if using) in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg (if using) and buttermilk until combined, then mix that into the bowl of dry ingredients. Stir in the melted butter.
3 Pour batter into hot skillet and bake: When the oven is hot, take out the skillet (carefully, as the handle will be hot!). Add the cornbread batter and make sure it is evenly distributed in the skillet.
Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are beginning to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
4 Rest bread in skillet, then serve: Let the bread rest for 10 to 30 minutes in the skillet before cutting it into wedges and serving.
To store, let the cornbread cool, then remove from pan and wrap in plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temp for 2 to 3 days
To avoid burning your hand because you've forgotten the pan is hot, I recommend placing a pot holder on the pan's handle while the cornbread is resting, or cooling the handle down a bit with an ice cube.