“AS WE CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONTRIBUTIONS TO AMERICAN CUISINE. TODAY, WE FOCUS ON THE ROLE CORN PLAYED IN THE BLACK AMERICAN DIET.”
Before cornbread became a southern delicacy that is now a food staple on tables across the nation and beyond, its roots can be found in Africa.
History tells us that Africans in east and central regions of the continent were introduced to corn by the Portuguese when they colonized various African countries in the 1500s. So when Africans were enslaved in America and given cornmeal as cheap rations for consumption, they were already familiar with how to utilize the crop.
Fast forward through modern history and you’ll see the evolution of cornbread made in many different ways. From Hoecakes, to hot water cornbread, to johnnycakes, black people have taken hold of something that was given to our ancestors as scraps, and transformed it into sweet and savory goodness. Of all the variations, my favorite is buttermilk cornbread baked to perfection and topped with butter and honey.
You can enjoy cornbread with chili, with fried chicken, with red beans and rice, or on its own.
Sweet Southern Cornbread
A southern food spread isn't complete without sweet and savory cornbread!
Place large cast iron skillet in oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
In a medium-sized bowl, add cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cornstarch, and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, add the butter, sugar and honey; whisk in eggs one at a time. Next, whisk in buttermilk and vanilla extract.
Pour dry mix into the wet ingredients a little at a time while moderately whisking continually (do not over mix). Stir until well combined.
Remove the heated skillet from the oven and immediately generously spray skillet with cooking oil spray or spray butter; pour the cornbread batter into the skillet, spreading it into an even layer. It will immediately start to set on the edges.
Bake cornbread for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown; poke with a fork, knife, or wooden skewer into the center - if it comes out with just crumbs and no wet batter, it's done.
Take cornbread out of oven and let cool for about 15 minutes; slice into wedges and serve warm with butter and honey.