This is the cornbread I served when I owned and ran Dairy Hollow House; it was its single most requested recipe. It is the first Southern food I ever learned to fix and the one that started me on my cornbread journey. I learned how to make it in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, New York, in 1969, when I was very young and living in a brownstone with seven other people. Viola, the soft-spoken lady friend of a kind neighbor, taught it to me. Viola was from Georgia, and it was she who initiated me into baking cornbread in an already-hot skillet.
Yield: Makes 8 Wedges
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup mild vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter, or mild vegetable oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with oil and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl, stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. Whisk in the sugar, egg, and the ¼ cup oil.
4. Put the prepared skillet over medium heat, add the butter, and heat until the butter melts and is just starting to sizzle. Tilt the pan to coat the sides and bottom.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and combine them quickly, using as few strokes as possible. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake the cornbread until it is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool for a few moments, and slice into wedges to serve.