Corn Bread

Does that say “Los Angeles?”

Here’s a report of a slightly less sweet version from the January 16, 1862 edition of the Aurora (Illinois) Commercial. The context is a contest held by a farming magazine to come up with corn-based recipes:

The first prize ($4) for the best loaf cake of any kind in which cornmeal is one of the principal ingredients, was awarded to Mrs. W. H. Jenkins, of Williamsburg, L.I.–The following is the recipe for making it–

Combine three tea-cupsful of cornmeal, one tea-cupful of wheat flour, two table-spoonsful of cream tartar, two table-spoonsful of brown sugar, one table-spoonful of salt. Mix well together while dry, adding one tea-spoonful of saleratus or soda dissolved in warm water. Work the whole to a thin batter, and bake in a quick oven three quarters of an hour.

The second prize for the best corn cake was awarded to Mrs. H.A. Judd, of Oneida county, N.Y.–We are unable to give the method of making it, as some of the visitors not only devoured the loaf, but stole the recipe.


From a notebook originally from somewhere in the general area of Sterling, Colorado from the 1930s.

This recipe is from the 40th page of the notebook; here’s the page in full (click to enlarge).

Click to expand a longer explanation...

In the words of the seller:
I acquired this book from the great granddaughter of the woman who wrote this book back in a small Nebraska town in the 30’s. She belonged to that generation of rural housewives who worked tirelessly to make ends meet and “keep body and soul together” for their families working the farms.

Later addendum:[A]fter a conversation I had with a friend’s sister who used to live in North Eastern Colorado, given the type of recipes listed we decided it might be from a small town there, i.e., Sterling or Fort Morgan. Also North Platte or Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Even Cheyenne, Wyoming. If you Google a map of Sterling, Colorado and pull back, you will see all these little towns in that tri-state area.

Corn Bread From [Los Angeles?]

1/2 c. lard
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1-1/2 [c.] sour milk
1 c. flour
1-1/2 c. cornmeal
1/4 c. sorghum
2 tsp. soda


Corn Bread method (provided by Yesterdish)

You can substitute buttermilk for the sour milk; if you’d rather use fresh milk, add 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice or use baking powder instead of soda.

It’s important to have your ingredients at room temperature, for this. If your milk is cold, the lard might not combine particularly well, and you could end up with a dry loaf with a greasy spot.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg with sugar, sorghum, and sour milk. Stir in melted lard.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, stirring until you have a batter and only small lumps remain (but not until it’s smooth–it ought to look like a muffin batter).
  5. Pour into a 9″ round pan and bake for about half an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you’d rather use a 9″ square pan, the baking time will be somewhere around 20 minutes.

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