My maternal grandmother lived with my mother and I until a series of strokes rendered her not only unable to take care of herself, but made it impossible for us to care for her either. I got a couple of her recipes from my mother (who by-and-large preferred instant to cooking from scratch after a long day at work).
The recipe was transmitted orally; as far as I know it was never written down before I wrote it out. Hence the unusual format of the ingredients which I attempted to put in a list as it was explained to me many years ago.
1 cup flour to 1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder to each measure of flour and cornmeal (In other words, 1 tsp for each measure of flour and 1 tsp for each measure of cornmeal for 2 total if you use 1 cup of each)
4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbls oil
“Enough milk to make a stiff batter”
Mix ingredients. I stir together the dry ingredients, then add the oil and eggs, beating in a well I’ve made in the center of the bowl, incorporated a bit of the cornmeal mixture at the edges, splashing in milk, beating by hand a bit more, a bit more milk, etc until the consistency looks right to me. I usually try to be more precise with recipes I post but this is an old family recipe which has been handed down from generation to generation and it’s done more by look and feel — and experience — as recipes often were in the 19th century.
Scrape into a greased pan. (Batter should not be liquid enough to “pour”. I have to spread it out in the pan a bit with the spoon.) My grandmother oiled the pan with cooking oil. A cooking spray such as PAM may be used instead.
Bake 400 F about 20 minutes or until brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cooking time is affected by how wet the batter is as well as the size and shape of the pan. Your results may vary.
Using the 1 cup flour and 1 cup cornmeal will give you one one 8 x 8 inch square pan of cornbread. I don’t know how far you can go using this proportional method of flour, cornmeal and baking powder, but I’ve doubled this recipe for a 9 x 13 inch pan (2 cups each flour and cornmeal, 4 tsp baking powder, all other ingredients doubled) and it turns out fine.
What always makes me shake my head and smile from the first time I wrote this down through all the years I’ve made cornbread is this one ingredient instruction: “enough milk”. 🙂