Yankee Cornbread

Yankee cornbread can play the part of a dinner roll at any meal, especially beside a plate of chicken, or more often, a bowl of chili. I use canola oil in the batter (instead of bacon fat or butter) to give the bread a firm but moist texture, which makes it easy to cut.

Sweet Yankee cornbread. A favorite of New Englanders! This version made with Greek yogurt and extra cornmeal. Great with chicken or chili.

Southerners have made fun of Northern cornbread for a long time. Mark Twain famously said, “Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread and perhaps no bread is quite so bad as the Northern imitation of it.”

The two cornbreads are so different, Mr. Twain! And today, we’re paying homage to this sweet Yankee version.

Northern bread is typically sweetened, which leads its critics to call it cake. (Though, in its defense, it’s not that sweet!) It’s also often made with more white flour than cornmeal – another point of contention. But New Englanders adore it.

I add Greek yogurt to my version, which is definitely not a traditional addition, but I think it balances the stoneground cornmeal in the nicest way. I also tip the flour balance more toward cornmeal because it adds a deliciously nutty flavor and pleasing gritty texture to the bread.

Don’t worry, New Englanders! This bread is still slightly sweet.

To make this bread, you need a bowl and a wooden spoon – nothing more – and a rectangular baking pan. Stack the warm squares on a platter and pass the chili.

If you can find it, use stoneground cornmeal in this recipe. It adds a deliciously nutty flavor and texture to the bread.

  • Butter (for the pan)
  • Flour (for the pan)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal, preferably stoneground
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Heat the oven to 375F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

2 Prepare the batter: In a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients, stir together the eggs, canola oil, and yogurt until smooth. Stir in the sugar followed by the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Keep stirring until no pockets of dry ingredients show.

3 Bake the cornbread: Pour the batter into the pan and use an offset spatula or regular spatula to smooth the top. Bake the cornbread for 35 minutes, or until it is uniformly golden brown on top and firm in the middle. Set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.

4 Slice the cornbread: Make 2 vertical slices and 5 horizontal slices to form 18 squares. Lift them from the pan and serve with butter.

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