A Case For Stone Ground Corn Meal

sugar free cornbread by Serious Eats

Did you know that traditional cornbread of the American South was made without sugar or wheat flour?

We’re looking at the changes – in how corn was milled, and dried before milling – that resulted in alterations to the recipe so profound that nowadays no one even questions the use of flour and sugar when whipping up a batch of cornbread. Let’s make delicious cornbread with us at korucaredoula .



Starting in the 1900s changes in milling – from stone ground to steelmilling – meant changes in the texture of the corn meal. But steel milling also changed the corn itself, from cobs dried on the stalk to air dried cobs. The finer grind and different drying made for much less sweetness. The recipe then had to be altered to use sugar, to replace the natural sweetness of the corn that had been lost, and wheat flour to augment it in order to get the rise required to get anything resembling the cornbread of yore.

Reported in depth in Serious Eats, by South Carolina writer Robert Moss the legacy of cornbread was forever altered until one man came along to save it. None other than legendary artisan grains obsessive Glenn Roberts, he man behind Anson Mills.

Moss writes poignantly, “Cornbread is just one of many traditional Southern foods that are difficult to experience today in their original form for the simple reason that today’s ingredients just aren’t the same. Buttermilk, rice, benne seeds, watermelons, and even the whole hogs put on barbecue pits: each has changed in fundamental ways over the course of the 20th century.


He continues, “The key to making good, authentic Southern cornbread is to use the right tools and ingredients. That means cooking it in a black cast iron skillet preheated in the oven so it’s smoking hot when the batter hits the pan, causing the edges of the bread to brown. That batter should be made with the best buttermilk possible (real buttermilk if you can find it, which isn’t easy). And you shouldn’t use a grain of wheat flour or sugar. If you start with an old fashioned stone-ground meal you’ll have no need for such adulterations.”

Find his recipe for a sugar and wheat-free cornbread here.

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