I actually have a true recipe for real Southern cornbread, but you'll have to suffer through the story of how I came to have such a recipe first! Many years ago (and I won't say how many) when I went to graduate school in Ohio, I was not going to be able to make it back to Mississippi for Thanksgiving. After suffering through white bread dressing with oysters at the home of some friends one year, I decided that I was making Thanksgiving dinner for a bunch of my other grad school friends who couldn't make it home. The only problem was that I didn't have a clue how Mom had made our traditional Thanksgiving dressing. I did what any girl would do. I called Mom and asked her to send me the recipe. (I called her in plenty of time that she could write the recipe out and send it by mail.) She, of course, did not have a written out recipe for the dressing but she told me what she put in it without amounts. My next question was "How do you make the cornbread?" I knew that it was in a cast iron skillet with cornmeal, but I had no clue of what else went in it besides buttermilk. Mom humored me though and she actually made it for a Sunday dinner when some of her family came so that she could try to measure her ingredients and get them all written out for me so that I would not have to endure another year of that inedible white bread oyster dressing concoction those "Yankees" served. Here is her recipe for cornbread:
2 cups yellow self-rising corn meal
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Mix all ingredients. Pour into a hot greased cast iron skillet (or if you are not making it for dressing you can use those wonderful corn stick pans that Maggie shows in her post). Bake at 450 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Now I should say that my Mom prefers the yellow self-rising corn meal from the Old Mill in Pigeon Forge or the kind they sell at the mill at Dollywood. Yes, this means that I take corn meal to Mississippi on a regular basis!
I also found a second time she sent me the cornbread recipe. In it, she'd changed her measurements slightly and added flour:
1 3/4 cup yellow self-rising corn meal
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Mix dry ingredients. Break eggs into dry ingredients. Add part of milk and beat well. Add enough milk to make a medium thin batter. Pour into a hot greased cast iron sksillet. Bake until done at 450 degrees.
Note: If your corn meal is not self-rising, add one more tsp. of baking powder and 1 tsp. salt. Some people do not use any baking powder with self-rising corn meal.