The following post was written by our friend Mindy from Cheater Chef.
Linda’s Southern Pantry blog got me thinking about my own pantry. If you knew nothing about me and looked in my pantry, you’d know immediately that I’m a southern baker. Why? Those big bags of Martha White® Self-Rising Flour and Martha White® Self-Rising White Enriched Corn Meal Mix are an immediate giveaway that my kitchen is the domain of a cook who knows how to whip up a batch of biscuits and a skillet of cornbread.
Let’s not stop with the two cornerstone breads of the South mentioned above. Those two handy bags with “Hot Rize” also say that I can probably rustle up pancakes, waffles, muffins, quick loaves, chicken and dumplings, corncakes, cornbread dressing, cornbread salads, hushpuppies, fried catfish, fried chicken, casseroles and coffee cakes with ease. Whew.
I do appreciate the convenience a pouch provides, but, I like how self-rising products, with just the right amount of salt and leavening, have made the daily chore of baking a little bit easier for generations of Southerners. If you want to hone your Southern baking skills, start with the suggested recipes listed on the Martha White bags.
Below are 3 items on my “I Can’t Live Without” list for Southern baking:
Buttermilk—Keep some in the fridge for adding tanginess to your biscuits and cornbread. If you think you won’t use it that often, think of it as thin yogurt and pour some in your morning smoothie. Buttermilk adds tang and moisture to any quick bread recipe and having some handy will encourage you to bake biscuits and cornbread more often.
Pastry Cloth—I have Linda to thank for introducing me to this item. Making biscuits, rolling out pie or cookie dough is a messy business that is much easier and nicely contained by using a pastry cloth. The cloth is a square of canvas fabric which has been sprinkled with flour. This cloth helps keep dough from sticking and the floury mess contained to one place. I keep the floured cloth folded up in a plastic bag (actually more than one) in the freezer. I find myself making biscuits more often knowing that I have a pastry cloth ready for use.
Cast Iron Skillet—I like using my big 12-inch cast iron skillet instead of a smaller one to make cornbread since we like our cornbread thin. Follow the cornbread recipe on the Martha White bag, but use a larger skillet so the batter is nice and thin. Bake cornbread until it’s a golden brown and you should end up with a crisp brown crust and a moist inside. Of course, I also use my 12-inch skillet for so many other things like baking biscuits, cobblers, crispy cornbread dressing, cornbread topped casseroles and pan-frying catfish. Let’s just say – I use my 12-inch skillet for almost everything.
Here are two delicious ways to put your cast iron skillet to good use: