The North thinks it know how to make corn bread, but this is a gross superstition. Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread, and perhaps no bread in the world is quite as bad as the Northern imitation of it.
-Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835-1910), from an autobiographical sketch, 1898
As we’re finding out in Mark Twain’s recently published autobiography, the man had strong opinions. Most people like cornbread, but there is an ongoing battle between what is “real” cornbread. All variants include cornmeal, which was a staple in Native American cooking predating European contact. Beyond that, ingredients vary from amounts of sugar added and other ingredients, which can include cracklins in the South, molasses in the North, and jalapenos in the Mexican influenced Southwest.
My favorite recipe was passed on to me by my mother-in-law, who is not even from North America (so all regional arguments can stop here.) It’s a simple but incredibly moist corn bread, enriched with creamed corn, green bell pepper, onions and cheese. If you want it spicier, substitute an equal amount of diced jalapenos for the bell pepper. This is excellent with chili or other bean soups, or a hearty snack on its own.
* * *
Magically Moist Cornbread
2 c flour
2 c yellow corn meal
8 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cans cream-style corn
1 cup grated cheese, such as Monterey jack
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 medium onions, diced
1 1/2 cups milk
4 Tablespoons oil
4 large eggs, beaten
1. whisk together first 5 (dry) ingredients in a large bowl
2. mix in creamed corn
3. add grated cheese
4. stir in peppers and onions
5. combine milk, oil, and beaten eggs in another bowl, then add into batter and mix until well combined
6. Bake in 2 greased round cake pans at 350 degrees for one hour, or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
© 2011 Linda Shiue