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Wholegrain Cornbread: Deliciously Different

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief


Tags: cornbread, recipes, kitchen, farms,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.Wholegrain cornbread can be the ultimate comfort food and with all that wholegrain goodness, wholegrain cornbread makes a healthy alternative to cornbread made with highly processed flours and meals. I love cornbread and last Sunday, while watching my Partner In Culinary Crime (PICC) paint the insides of a bank of kitchen cabinets, I threw together a batch of my Osage County Red bean-free chili. Nothing goes better with chili than cornbread, but in the spirit of Weston Price and Nina Planck, I wanted to make wholegrain cornbread with minimal sugar and a healthful oil that was more or less unadulterated.

Hank's wholegrain cornbread. 

I happened to have a tube of some industrial de-germed and vitamin fortified yellow cornmeal in the pantry and used its recipe as a starting point. I substituted organic peanut oil for the “vegetable oil,” home-ground (fine) and home-raised Floriana cornmeal that my friend, and Mother Earth News editor in chief, Cheryl Long gave me last fall (literally whole grain … no sifting, nothing) for the name-brand stuff, and whole wheat flour for the bleached all purpose fortified white flour. I had to monkey with the ratios to get the batter where I wanted it, but wow, did this wholegrain cornbread turn out great.

I didn’t get rid of the sugar all together, opting to take Nina Planck’s approach of cutting it in half as the first step. And unadulterated whole milk could have been substituted for the  unadulterated half & half I found in the fridge (we only had whole goats milk and my PICC guards that like gold bullion at Ft. Knox). In the future, I plan to try this cornbread with honey instead of sugar and some different unadulterated fats, including our home-rendered lard. You could also bake it in a glass or glazed dish, but I am very fond of cast iron. If you use cast iron, pop the wholegrain cornbread out of the pan to cool – that way you will avoid any iron flavor in the bread and any condensation from forming between the cornbread and the pan.

Hank’s Wholegrain Cornbread

½ cup peanut oil, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1¼ cups half & half
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup fine wholegrain ground corn
2 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Place ¼ cup peanut oil in 10-inch cast-iron skillet and place in the oven. Preheat oven and skillet to 400 F.

Whisk together the eggs, half & half, and leftover ¼ cup peanut oil. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Combine the two mixtures and stir just until wet.

Pour batter into heated skillet and bake for 20 minutes. 

Photos and recipe formatting Courtesy Karen Keb.


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

deborah bier
3/4/2011 9:16:10 AM

I also love the Floriana corn as cornbread, but my favorite is Bloody Butcher. I also find you have to adjust the amount of liquid/cornmeal compared to commercial cornmeal. I love very best 100% cornmeal cornbread -- no other grain. What a corn taste! My 5-minute cornbread (5 min to put together): 1 cup cornmeal (1/3c more if using homegrown heirloom corn) 3/4 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 egg 1 tbls your favorite sweetener 1/2 tbls your favorite oil 1 c soured milk (or 1 tbls vinegar to round out a short cup of fresh milk) Preheat oven to 350 deg. Grease and preheat castiron baking pan or skillet (a small one -- 8" is good) or use a loaf pan. While the oven is heating, combine ingredients. Pour into baking pan and bake for 20-25 min or until browned on top. (If baking nothing else, I make this in the toaster oven to save energy since this is so small). Cool and see if you can keep away from it before dinner!


hank will_2
2/24/2011 4:50:07 PM

I tried it again without any sugar in it and I liked it even better. And I scored more Floriana cornmeal from my friend Cheryl Long so we're set for a while. I adore cast iron as a cooking material and also seek it at likely used outlets. I get a thrill each time I find something different.


nebraska dave
2/15/2011 8:50:53 PM

@Hank, the corn bread sounds like a right wholesome recipe. I like baking in the cast iron skillet too. Cast iron is a buy once and use forever purchase. I pick up a piece every now and then at the local thrift store. My first set I bought back in 1979 and still today it's as good as it was then. Cornbread really does go good with chili doesn't it? Have a great cornbread day.


robyn dolan
2/15/2011 9:43:42 AM

I love cornbread made this way. I used to always do it in a cake pan til I saw a video making it in the heated, oiled skillet. I'll never do it in a cake pan again!