Grandma Elner’s Sweet Cornbread


Grandma Elner's Sweet Cornbread

As y’all know, I sometimes struggle to find a good recipe to share, and when that happens, I ask for your help. But this month, I’m sharing a simple baked-cornbread recipe and some stovetop cooking advice I had forgotten about until recently. As y’all know, most of our stuff is now in Hawaii, but I’m still here, waiting for permission from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to bring our animals to Hawaii. All the “good” cookware is there now. I left myself one little-used iron skillet that I had to re-season before I could use it. (To season an iron skillet, rub it with oil or bacon grease and put it in the oven at 300 degrees for an hour. Do that as many times as you must to give it a hard black shiny surface.)
Iron cookware gives meat a crispy outer surface without drying out the middle. It does the same for pan-made biscuits and cornbread. Another great thing about an iron skillet is that you can cook an entire meal in it, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I put my veggies on one side and my meat on the other, and if I want a simmered sauce, I add a little water at the end of the cooking process and stir it around. Delish! I had fully intended to leave the heavy skillet at home (for the yard sale some friends are gonna do after I’m gone), but I’ve packed a bunch of large flat-rate boxes to mail to ourselves (things we forgot to bring) and now, I’ll be mailing that skillet, too. So, my stovetop cooking advice is for you to hunt for your old iron skillet, break it out of the cupboard, and get busy cooking. Now, for the baking recipe!


  • 1 cup fine self-rising flour
  • 1 cup fine self-rising yellow cornmeal
  • ½ tsp salt
  • cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 large egg
  • cup mild-flavored olive oil OR melted butter (I like the butter flavor best, but oil makes the cornbread moist. You can do half and half if you like.)
  • 1 cup whole milk or buttermilk at room temperature (Buttermilk is best, but if you don’t keep it on hand, you can add a splash of lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for five minutes.)


  • Use a paper towel to wipe a thin film of fresh oil on your iron skillet, place it in the oven, and preheat to 400-degrees.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowland mix well.
  • Break a large egg into the dry mixture (or twosmall ones) and stir with a fork.
  • Add the butter and/or olive oil and the milk or buttermilk and mix well. (Rosemary-infused olive oil is great—just put a clean, dry sprig of Rosemary in the bottle when you first buy it and leave it there.)
  • Take the hot skillet out of the oven and pour the cornbread mixture in. (It’ll start to sizzle around the edges. That’s a good thing!)
  • Put it back in the oven and bake for about 20minutes, or until golden brown with slightly darker crisp edges. (You can check doneness with a toothpick—if you stick it in and it comes out clean, it’s done.)
  • Serve with butter and honey.


After the empty skillet cools, wipe it clean. Technically, you’re not supposed to wash an iron skillet with soap and water, and you’d NEVER put it in the dishwasher. But I break the rules by rinsing the skillet with water and a tiny bit of dish soap (especially if I’ve been cooking meat or fish in it), then dry the skillet, wipe on a new layer of oil, and heat it on the stovetop until it’s well dry.
If you like your cornbread to have a little kick, you can add a finely chopped jalapeño pepper.
Cooked crumbled sausage or bacon is good, too!
Or add some shredded cheese on top!

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