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A few weeks ago Grandma Pellegrini sent me an email. Yes, she does email. She also does facebook. It is the dawn of a new era.

She said: “I’m just sitting down to enjoy my soup and my latest triumph in the kitchen.  I decided this morning to put my various cast iron baking pans to good use.   It entailed a major restoration, cleaning, and seasoning.  After several hours of hard labor they were ready , sizzling hot from the oven,  for my corn-bread batter. –Well, it was worth it! I am feasting on corn-sticks (large), mini corn-sticks, and heart-shaped. And… they’re delicious! Now for the clean-up.”

And so when I went for a visit recently, she and I made cornbread. She has these old-school cast iron molds that are so charming, you have no choice but to make cornbread in them.

For a long time, I found a lot of cornbread to be too dry. It seemed like one of those things people ate for survival more than enjoyment — like hardtack on a ship. But then a few years ago a co-worker at a restaurant served up cornbread for family meal and I was forever converted. It was moist and salty and sweet and even a little spicy.

When I was traveling in the south this past year writing my book, I found myself talking to a few farmers in a store lobby. We were talking about food of course, (I need to take up stamp collecting or something), and one farmer leaned in to another and said, “They got yellow cornbread up north” The second farmer looked stunned. I couldn’t imagine what other kind of cornbread there would be… but as it turns out, they make white cornbread in the south… well at least they do in the mountains of east Tennessee, those farmers who loiter in smoked ham shops.

But because as much as I try, I’ll always be a northerner, Grandma P. and I made yellow corn bread…

…but because we’re hip and cool, we added semolina.

Then the yellow corn meal.

Then the baking soda.

Then some corn kernels for a little texture. I think texture is almost as important as taste… and often overlooked.

So is color. Color on a plate always makes the food taste better.

And in this case, these red hot peppers also turned things up a notch and gave it a spicy kick.

A little salt.

And eggs and cream. Yes, this cornbread will be moist.

And then a dash of honey from our honeybees.

One thing about cornbread is that the pan you’re cooking it in should be very hot before you add the corn mixture. So if you’re using cast iron, you’ll want to have it heating in the oven while you’re preparing your ingredients.

Then you pull them out briefly… and add butter.

Lots and lots of butter.

Make sure the butter coats all sides, a pastry brush will help with that.

Then you pour out the excess butter into the corn mixture, so it’s not too greasy.

And give it a good mix.

Then you fill each mold to the top but not much over the top since it will rise.

I wanted to have a few different shapes so I didn’t fill all of the molds.

And sooon… they will be brown and crusty.

And you flip them out like so…

Brown and crusty…

And then onto a wire rack to help them cool.

And because Grandma P. is the master of presentation, she arranged a butter dish and a dainty knife…

And we sat down for some very moist, crunchy, spicy, crusty, warm, yellow corn bread.

The End.

p.s. This is my favorite corner of Grandma Pellegrini’s house.

“Yellow Corn Bread”

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings: 10 -12 pieces


  • 1/3 cup soft butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup semolina flour
  • 2 tablespoons spicey red peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a skillet of any size or shape in the oven.
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, except for the butter.
  • Melt the butter in the hot skillet, then pour off the excess into the batter.
  • Turn the oven down to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Pour the cornbread mixture into the skillet, place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, carefully remove from the skillet and place on a wire rack to cool until ready to eat.


  • Eric P.
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Mmm looks delicious! Wish I had some with a bowl of hot soup right about now…

  • Grandma
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:55 am

    we found canned corn kernels to be better than the frozen

  • MrGnocchi
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:55 am

    Glad to see you're using 'Red Mill'..they make really great Stuff. Love the photos.

  • Heather
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Georgia, I saw you on Fox and found your website. Oh my goodness that cornbread recipe is the best I have ever tasted! I'm giving it to all my fellow co-workers. Thanks

    • Georgia
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 5:57 am

      Heather, that makes my day! Thanks for giving it a try and I hope to see you here again soon : )

  • AOh
    Posted June 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    been awhile since i've checked your site. but g'luck tommorrow on the show and of course, i had to comment on the cornbread. that'll be the recipe to try this wknd. i *heart* cornbread! didn't know it came in white though. still, i'm north of the M-D line and asian, so yellow cornbread it is. 😉

    • Georgia
      Posted June 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Annabelle! Let me know how the cornbread turns out — yellow it is, for me too…

  • Robert
    Posted January 16, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I grew up in Northeast Tennessee and ate yellow cornbread almost exclusively. My grandparents served it with nearly every meal.

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