A few years ago, my grandmother was going through her things when she came across her mother's old 8" cast iron skillet, rusted and coated in a thick layer of gradoo. Not really much of a cook at this point, Grandma gifted it to my dad. He was so excited he told me the next time we talked, and he swore the first thing he'd make in it was his grandma's lacy cornbread.
Needless to say, he doesn't do a lot of baking, so he didn't really make anyone's cornbread.
However, I went ahead and asked Grandma for her mom's recipe, and I went to work trying to make a family classic.
Grandma talked me through the recipe. Despite not having made it for years, she still had it firmly in her mind: the estimated ratio of ingredients, the final consistency, and tricks to getting the perfect crips
After many weeks, and a lot of elbow grease, my dad was able to get it clean. Seriously, he had to scrub it repeatedly to strip all the caked on "seasoning" (which after 20+ years in storage looked more like a lifetime of questionable choices). Then, he had to re-season it.
The beauty of cast iron, though, is that the pan is like brand new. If I didn't know what it looked like to start with, I would never have guessed the pan was anything special. It looks almost identical to a newer version my mom had bought before the old one was passed down to us.
If y'all want a guide on how to revamp scary looking cast iron, drop a comment below. Maybe I can find a used-and-abused one at a yard sale to clean and season.
Trick to Lacy Edges
First, make sure your pan is hot and well-greased. If the oil isn't hot enough, your cornbread won't start cooking at the edges right away. You want that oil to permeate those edges as it spreads out, creating those little bubbles. The pancake will get crisp on the outside but still be soft in the center.
Think of it almost like a crispy cornbread pancake.
Lacy Cornbread Batter Consistency
When my grandma was walking me through the recipe, she told me that it should be thinner than gravy.
As I made it while she watched over me, I realized she meant it should be almost as thin as water. If it's as thick as gravy, you'll get some wonderful griddle cakes, but they will not have that lacy edge you want out of these.
Further, make sure you are stirring your batter with each batch. Because there is so much water, the corn meal mix will sink to the bottom. So, stir.
- 8" cast iron skillet
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups cornmeal
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 cups water
- Crisco/Oil To place in skillet
- In a large bowl, combine ingredients. For the perfect batter consistency, it should be like a loose gravy. When lifting the spoon out of the bowl, the batter should run off almost like water.
- Heat an 8" cast iron skillet. Place Crisco/oil into the pan so that a thin layer covers the surface. When the oil is hot, use a ¼ cup measuring cup to spoon the batter onto the hot skillet. Let the edges get crispy and the center bubble before flipping, about 1-2 minutes. Flip, let brown. Place on a paper napkin to remove grease. Repeat the process.