Cornbread and Bluegrass

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"You can't separate the South from cornbread made with buttermilk," Ricky Skaggs, the bluegrass legend who is now my daughter's father-in-law once told me. And that is God's honest truth. In fact, cornbread is almost as synonymous with the South as the music whose roots stem from its hills and hollers. And the love for these classics reaches all the way to Ohio where my husband was raised on Corn Pone and the sound of Skaggs' mandolin coming from the small radio in the garage where his father tuned in to the Opry each week.

Neither the recipes nor the music have changed much from the early years. People still eat their cornbread with lashings of cold butter and honey (my favorite), in a bowl or a glass of milk and always with beans and chili. And Bluegrass sounds much the same as when Bill Monroe first started strumming the ballads of Appalachia over a hundred years ago.

So here's to a southern classic, both the music and the recipe, and by all means, don't forget the buttermilk.

Browned Butter Corn Bread

(Adapted from


1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional seasonings:
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square pan (unless you plan to bake it in a cast iron skillet.)

2.  Melt the butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat when it starts to brown.

3.  Meanwhile, beat eggs and sugar until well blended, then add the buttermilk and baking soda. Stir to combine. Pour this into the skillet with the browned butter and stir.

4.  Whisk in the cornmeal, flour and salt until blended and only a few lumps remain. (If adding an optional seasoning listed below, add it here.)

5.  Pour batter into the prepared pan, or keep it in the cast iron skillet.

6.  Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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