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Sweet or not, cornbread tells a story

  • Special to the Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012, at 12 a.m.

Buttermilk Cornbread

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Position rack in center of oven. Generously oil a 9-inch cast iron skillet (or a 9-inch cake pan) and place on rack. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs in a large mixing bowl until slightly beaten; stir in sugar and melted butter.

Stir baking soda into buttermilk; then stir into the egg mixture.

Whisk cornmeal, flour and salt together in a large bowl to combine. Then add cornmeal mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Stir only until well blended and few lumps remain — do not overbeat. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or baking pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Jan. 4, 2012

My granddaughter, Claire, is in the 5th grade and likes American Girl dolls. She received two new ones for Christmas — one from Santa and one from me, both Civil War era.

When she visited during Christmas with her family, I had a houseful of company. Claire wanted to sleep with Grandma in the king-size bed, and all five of her American Girl dolls came along. She lined three up on the floor, cushioned on pillows and carefully tucked in for the night, but the two special ones were perched in our bed. The next morning, she carefully dressed each one and fixed their hair — one even had braids.

Each doll has a name and a life story. Claire shares the story of each of her dolls, including what happened in their lives in the historical context. It is a great history lesson.

Another history lesson unfolds in the recipe for cornbread. Cornbread was popular during the Civil War because it was very cheap and could be made in many different ways. Sometimes it was baked in a pan or it could be fried in a skillet as hoecakes or fritters.

Today, there are many variations of cornbread. True southern cornbread is not sweet, but people in other regions like their cornbread sweet and more cake-like. Peppers, cheese and other ingredients can be added as it is very versatile bread.

The following recipe is a basic one that I made recently in a cooking class. It quickly became a favorite. It is a form of quick bread, meaning it is easy to stir together and bake. In less than an hour, you have a great cornbread. Ingredients are basic things that many of you will have in your pantry. If you do not have buttermilk in your refrigerator, you can make a quick substitute by stirring a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice into a cup of milk.

Bonnie Aeschliman is a certified culinary professional who owns Cooking at Bonnie’s Place in Wichita. For more information, call 316-425-5224 or visit cookingatbonnies.com. To submit a question to Bonnie, e-mail her at bonnie@cookingatbonnies.com.

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