Some like it sweet and some like it unsweetened. Some like it sweet for breakfast but unsweetened for other meals.
Leftovers are great fried (reheated and toasted) the next day in a skillet with flavorful bacon or sausage grease (tasty way to heat up left over buttermilk biscuits too), or warmed in the microwave, or it can simply be eaten cold. It can also be eaten crumbled up with milk or buttermilk poured over it, crumbled into stews or chili, or made into cornbread stuffing or cornbread sage dressing.
The same batter — or a slight variation of it (depending upon how large the cake) — can be used to make corn cakes or cornbread pancakes — also known to some as Hoe cakes and to others as Johnny cakes. It is all the same great thing, but just comes with many different names.
For best results, use an iron skillet! It helps create that crispy outside traditional to southern cornbread.
However, it can be made without that crispy crust using a regular baking pan or casserole dish. The texture will be different, but it will still taste just as great!
Breakfast (Sweet) Cornbread
2 cups yellow cornmeal (see note below if making corn cakes)
1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tablespoon honey or molasses or to taste
Note: You can get away with using only half the amount of butter (1/4 cup) if running short on butter or looking to decrease calories and fat. May also substitute bacon or pork sausage grease, lard, or vegetable oil in place of butter — just melt solids into liquid state and cool enough first so that it doesn’t cook the batter or the eggs in the batter as it is being added.
Whisk together just until no lumps.
Let rest, covered, in the refrigerator overnight — or at room temperature for 30 minutes. Making batter ahead saves time in the morning.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400˚F
For cornbread muffins, line cupcake pan with liners. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full.
Otherwise, butter or grease a large iron skillet or baking pan.
Bake for 15-30 minutes (time varies with altitude and type of pan used) or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is a light golden brown.
Store, covered, at room temperature.
For plain cornbread, simply omit the honey or molasses, and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature (to allow time for the buttermilk and baking powder to work their magic).
For corn cakes (cornbread pancakes, Johnny cakes, or Hoe cakes) simply use the batter as you would to make buttermilk pancakes — spooning or pouring into hot lightly greased iron skillet or onto griddle, cook for about 2 to 3 minutes –or until edges appear nicely browned and it has un-stuck itself from the skillet, then flip over to cook other side. (Like other pancakes, they will initially stick to the pan until cooked loosening up with little to no intervention once that side has cooked enough).
For corn cakes, I usually use 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup flour in the recipe for a more pancake like consistency and they hold together better with the addition of the flour gluten, but it is not required. I like a larger sized corn cake! I also prefer to use the sweetened batter when making corn cakes.
Just be sure to make smaller sized cakes if using only cornmeal so can flip and lift out of pan with less chance of breaking as they are more tender.
My “cheat” —
If having a really bad day or running short on time, I will cheat and use 3 small (8.5 ounce) boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, follow package directions, and add the same amount of honey or molasses if needs be to sweet and for corn cakes, I also whisk in a little flour — about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. I let it rest about 10 minutes, whisk again, and then use.