A few years ago I bought myself a small cast iron skillet. It’s about 5 inches across the bottom (6.5 inches across the top!) and as cute as can be. I bought it thinking I'd make a bunch of small frittatas, but what I mostly use it for is skillet cornbread. The hot iron combined with a little melted fat gives the cornbread that golden brown, crispy, crust.
This recipe is my new favorite cornbread recipe. It's not too sweet, but it’s got enough sugar to taste balanced. In other words, my father (who insists cornbread should not be sweet) would like this recipe just fine. You can make this with unsalted butter, salted, or even a melted spread. Vegetable oil would work too, but in this case the flavor from the butter (or spread, which is what I used) really comes through and pairs nicely with the corn.
The full batch recipe for cast iron skillet cornbread is here.
Below is how I made it using the small skillet. If you want to keep the small batch but don't have the 6.5 inch skillet, you could do it in an 8x4 inch loaf pan or possibly two mini loaf pans. Or you could just do the full batch on the above link. Either way, it's a great cornbread recipe.
Skillet Sizes and Such
Note: Skillet capacity may vary. Mine measures 5 inches across the bottom, but it's actually 6.5 inches across the top and marketed as a 6.5 inch skillet. The capacity is 2 cups. Lodge does make a 5 inch skillet, but last time I checked it was out of stock. If you are cooking for two or want small batch skillet breads, the 6.5 inch measured across the top version is probably best. In addition to the 5 inch and 6.5 inch skillets, Lodge makes 3.5 inch mini skillets. I'm planning on buying a set to play with and will test the recipe in minis when I can. If you already have the little baby skillets and want to try this recipe, I have a feeling it will work quite well divided between the two tiny skillets and baked for a shorter amount of time.
Gluten-Free Skillet Cornbread
To make this gluten-free, use 50 grams of your favorite 1:1 gluten-free blend in place of the all-purpose flour. My daughter recently tested it with Measure for Measure and it worked well. She also doubled it and used a rectangular pan since her college house does not have a cast iron skillet. It is obviously not in the South.
Small Batch Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal fine corn flour works too (85 grams)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 50 grams
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 25 grams
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons salted butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place a 6.5-inch cast iron skillet inside to heat while you make the batter.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk in the milk, buttermilk, and egg. Whisk in almost all of the melted butter, reserving about ½ tablespoon for the skillet later on.
- Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
- Add the reserved butter to the hot skillet. Pour the batter into the skillet (it should sizzle and butter should pool around it) and place it in the center of the oven. Bake until the center is firm and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and serve.
- Note: I've never had the cornbread spill over, as it tends to bake around the sides first and rise up. However, if you are worried about it you can put a rimmed baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drips.