(Adapted from a recipe in Joy of Cooking)
Makes one 9- or 10-inch round or 8-inch square bread, or 12 muffins
Use a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet or an 8-inch square metal cake pan. I would not preheat a glass pan at such a high temperature.
1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard, oil, or butter
1¾ cups (231g) cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill medium grind.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 450˚. Put the bacon fat in the skillet and put it in the oven to get hot while you mix the corn bread. (If using butter, don’t put it in the pan yet because it will burn. Just heat the dry pan.)
2. Whisk the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.
3. In another bowl whisk the eggs until they are foamy and then whisk in the buttermilk until well-combined.
4. When the skillet is sizzling hot, add the eggs and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and mix just until it’s all blended. (If using butter, add it to the skillet to melt now, just before you mix the wet and dry ingredients together.)
5. Take the hot skillet out of the oven and tilt it to evenly distribute the bacon fat. Pour in the corn bread batter and put back in the oven.
6. For a 10-inch skillet, baking time is 18 – 20 minutes. For a 9-inch skillet or 8-inch pan it will be 20 – 25 minutes. (Muffins 15 - 18 minutes.)
7. Serve immediately with butter and honey, if desired.
Leftovers can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a low oven.