Don’t know whether you noticed, but in the last post I wrote…the Sausage and Kale Soup…there were a few little pieces of cornbread on the side of the bowl. Oh, you missed that? Well, let me tell you about it. That is what we in my little corner of the South call “lacy cornbread.”
Now, there are all kinds of cornbread. There’s the thick, cakey type. That’s a baked cornbread and it usually has eggs, maybe buttermilk and some leavening to provide rise. Then there’s corn pone which can be either baked in the oven or fried. It generally does not contain eggs but still has some leavening and it rises a little bit. Also, I would argue that hush puppies are cornbread, too. Of course, they’re fried and most people add onions and other seasonings. It just wouldn’t be a fish-fry without hush puppies.
There’s also the debate over whether or not cornbread should have sugar in the batter. You can count me as firmly entrenched in the no-sugar-in-the-cornbread camp. Even though I think it’s delicious with a drizzle of honey and a pat of butter, I just don’t want any sweetness at all in my cornbread itself. It really just depends on what you grew up with, I think.
But, back to the lacy cornbread. This is a fried cornbread made with the simplest of ingredients – cornmeal, salt and hot water. I’ve seen very similar recipes called, appropriately enough, “hot water cornbread” and I’ve seen this called Jonnycakes, too. But where I come from, we call this lacy cornbread. It’s because the cooked cornbread has an airy, or “lacy” appearance caused by the very thin batter as it spreads in the pan. Yep, this is crispy, crunchy, salty fried goodness.
To make my lacy cornbread, the one really crucial thing that you’ll need is some finely ground, white cornmeal. It can be hard to find, too. I’ve had trouble getting it here in north Georgia, so I just always plan on picking up a package or two when I visit home. Or either my Mama sends me some. Or my friend Sonya. Or I order it online. Gotta have the fine ground white cornmeal, you know!
You’ll also need a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. I use a flat, round cast iron griddle pan, but any cast iron skillet will work just fine.
Stir the salt into the cornmeal. Add the water and blend using a wire whisk to make sure there are no lumps in the mixture. Use the hottest tap water available for your batter.
This is a very thin batter. See how it barely coats the spoon? That’s just what you want. Just set it aside for a few minutes while you prepare the skillet or griddle.
Heat a flat griddle or skillet over medium heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle with one or two tablespoons of peanut oil tilting the griddle so that the entire surface is coated with oil.
Ladle the batter by tablespoons onto the hot pan. Do not crowd the pan. When the edges begin to brown, turn the cornbread with a metal spatula and cook the second side. The cornbread cooks quickly, so watch it carefully.
Remove the cooked cornbread to paper towels to drain. Re-oil the skillet and stir the batter in between each batch of cornbread. If the batter thickens, thin it with a tablespoon or two of hot water.
Oh, and those dark edges in the photo? That’s not a mistake :-) That’s the very best part of this lacy cornbread.
- 1 cup fine ground white cornmeal
- 1 ¼ cups hot water (your hottest tap water)
- ½ tsp. salt
- Peanut oil
- Mix the cornmeal, water and salt with a wire whisk making sure no lumps remain in the mixture. Set aside for a few minutes.
- Heat a flat griddle or skillet over medium heat.
- When the pan is hot, drizzle with one or two tablespoons of peanut oil tilting the griddle so that the entire surface is coated with oil.
- Ladle the batter by tablespoons onto the hot pan. Do not crowd the pan.
- When the edges begin to brown, turn the cornbread with a metal spatula and cook the second side. The cornbread cooks quickly, so watch to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Remove the cooked cornbread to paper towels to drain. Re-oil the skillet and stir the batter in between each batch of cornbread.
Similar cornbread recipes you might enjoy from around the internet:
- Lace Hoecake Cornbread from Through the Country Door
- Hot Water Cornbread from Syrup and Biscuits
- How Hoecake Got Its Name on Bainbridge Living
What I was cooking…