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help. i am having problems cooking up some cornbread.

it keeps coming out heavy and tough. one batch was just hard.

i am trying to cook from scratch.

the store mixes come out great.

what am i doing wrong?

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6 hours ago, packnrat said:

what am i doing wrong?

I was starting to make a list, when I read your post again and realized that you only want answers about your cooking!   🙃

Have you considered using a different recipe?

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only one i know of. flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder. egg, milk. such a simple list how i am screwing it up. 

so what should i do? less flour? less corn meal?

i am not much of a cook, just trying to get away from some of the poisons the gov wants in our food chain. not a nut here, just trying.

if i could i would buy direct from a ranch to get away from the garbage fed meat critters. ( cows, chickens, pork, etc). and yes they are fed garbage. i know as i have delivered some of it to the feed suppliers in years past.

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29 minutes ago, packnrat said:

only one i know of. flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder. egg, milk. such a simple list how i am screwing it up. 

so what should i do? less flour? less corn meal?

i am not much of a cook, just trying to get away from some of the poisons the gov wants in our food chain. not a nut here, just trying.

if i could i would buy direct from a ranch to get away from the garbage fed meat critters. ( cows, chickens, pork, etc). and yes they are fed garbage. i know as i have delivered some of it to the feed suppliers in years past.

The key to any recipe that requires baking powder is freshness. By that I mean, once the baking powder is opened, it's only good for a couple weeks before it's lost most of its effectiveness. That's why I only buy the smallest container. Not cooking for an army anymore. The baking powder is usually dead by the time we need to use it again. Jay

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well my first attempt was all new stuff. and i keep everything in zip lock freezer bags.

not a problem right now, but spring time ants love to come inside. guess they are mad there tree fell over. i am not so much a spic n span type , but no food laying around. heck i even freeze my bread.

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Unlike Jay, I have no professional cooking experience and I did not know that baking soda had a very limited shelf life.

Here's a summary of a bit of web research I did:

Baking powder includes an acid. It only needs a liquid to become activated.  But it has a limited shelf life and is sensitive to humidity.  It has a shelf life of between six months to one year.

Baking soda requires an acid and a liquid to become activated to help baked goods rise. Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life.  

--------------

I was curious why baking soda is not sold in tins, perhaps with desiccant packet included.  My guess was that that practice would reduce supplier revenue and profit.  So I googled:

baking soda in a box or tin

Here was the first hit:

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-store-baking-soda/

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sad lots of things should still be sold in tin cans, as the items would stay fresher much longer than in plastic, and no worries about bad chems leaching into the food stuffs. but the suppliers do not want you to have much of a shelf life to anything. aka: no pantry items. must buy new all the time.

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Moisture can get into just about any container - especially when you open it up to take some out.  Can't be helped.  Yes, some containers are better than others, but only if you don't open the lid.  

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1 hour ago, DanZemke said:

Unlike Jay, I have no professional cooking experience and I did not know that baking soda had a very limited shelf life.

Here's a summary of a bit of web research I did:

Baking powder includes an acid. It only needs a liquid to become activated.  But it has a limited shelf life and is sensitive to humidity.  It has a shelf life of between six months to one year.

Baking soda requires an acid and a liquid to become activated to help baked goods rise. Baking soda has an indefinite shelf life.  

--------------

I was curious why baking soda is not sold in tins, perhaps with desiccant packet included.  My guess was that that practice would reduce supplier revenue and profit.  So I googled:

baking soda in a box or tin

Here was the first hit:

https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-store-baking-soda/

Baking powder only has a shelf life of six months IF it hasn't been opened. Once it's opened, it immediately starts losing its potency. Others may use it several weeks after opening, but you may need to use more. I just prefer a new and unopened container at that point. Jay

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Quote

How To Test If Baking Soda or Baking Powder Is Expired

What You Need

Baking powder or baking soda
Measuring cup
Hot tap water
1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon
White or apple cider vinegar (if testing baking soda)

 

Instructions

  1. Measure out the water: Measure out 1/2 cup of hot tap water.
  2. Add vinegar: Baking soda needs an acid to get a reaction, so add 1/4 teaspoon of a simple vinegar like white or apple cider vinegar to the water if you’re testing baking soda. If you are testing baking powder, you do not need to add any vinegar.
  3. Add baking soda or baking powder: Add 1/4 teaspoon of the baking soda or baking powder.
  4. Look for fizzing! After you add the baking soda or baking powder, look for an immediate bubbling or fizzing reaction. If it happens, your baking soda or baking powder is still good! If you see no bubbling, it’s time get replacements.

 

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Kirk beat me to it.  I concluded the same.  Testing is likely to be the best approach, since the average humidity across geography and seasons varies widely as does the permeability of the baking powder container and how often it is opened.

I chose a source that explained it more simply:  "To test if baking powder has gone bad, put a teaspoon in a half cup of hot water. If it bubbles, bake away. If not, head to the store."  It also appears, than unlike baking powder, baking soda has an indefinite shelf life.

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37 minutes ago, DanZemke said:

Kirk beat me to it.  I concluded the same.  Testing is likely to be the best approach, since the average humidity across geography and seasons varies widely as does the permeability of the baking powder container and how often it is opened.

I chose a source that explained it more simply:  "To test if baking powder has gone bad, put a teaspoon in a half cup of hot water. If it bubbles, bake away. If not, head to the store."  It also appears, than unlike baking powder, baking soda has an indefinite shelf life.

As far as I can tell, the test quoted only tests for "dead or alive" and doesn't give any indication of potency. Not knowing that, there's no way to adjust the recipe for the aging of the baking powder. I'll stick to replacing it for the best results. "Good enough" doesn't always work for me. Baking something yummy and having it turn out only half risen seems like a shame. Jay

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On 3/10/2021 at 3:24 PM, Jaydrvr said:

As far as I can tell, the test quoted only tests for "dead or alive" and doesn't give any indication of potency.

Both methods are "dead or alive" tests.  One uses time and the other uses bubbles.  My suspicion is that humidity and packaging of the contents of the opened container affects potency.

Assuming that bubbling only has two states seems unlikely.  Is a warm water slurry of baking powder restricted to vigorously bubbling, or not bubbling at all?   I suspect bubbling (and potency) declines over time and the rate depends on packaging and relative humidity of the air it is stored in.

My guess is that the degree of bubbling provides an indication of potency.  Alas, I was not able to find a bubbling metric or scale :-).  

 

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1 hour ago, DanZemke said:

Both methods are "dead or alive" tests.  One uses time and the other uses bubbles.  My suspicion is that humidity and packaging of the contents of the opened container affects potency.

Assuming that bubbling only has two states seems unlikely.  Is a warm water slurry of baking powder restricted to vigorously bubbling, or not bubbling at all?   I suspect bubbling (and potency) declines over time and the rate depends on packaging and relative humidity of the air it is stored in.

My guess is that the degree of bubbling provides an indication of potency.  Alas, I was not able to find a bubbling metric or scale :-).  

 

Also temperature of liquid, size of the container, amount of each ingredient affects rate of reaction.  Kitchen Chemistry can be very complex.

Edited by Barbaraok
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It sounds like you're not using enough liquid (sweet milk) in your batter. As far as baking powder and baking soda, my better half uses old stuff and new and the corn bread comes out great. You might try adding a little vinegar into the mix as it helps the dough rise. It's acidic.

Edited by Don SC
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I commend the OP for taking steps to improve the healthfulness and quality of her food! Applause! 👏 

 

If someone answered the question about a tried and true cornbread recipe, I missed it. So here goes: this is the one I've used for years. I sometimes grind my own blue cornmeal and use that 1/2 & 1/2 with commercial. I sometimes put homemade black beans and/or corn and peppers in the pan before the batter. The motto that has served me with regards to all baking is this: all baking is a science experiment, as it requires a chemical reaction. Learning how each ingredient affects that reaction, and adjusting ingredients to get your desired result takes practice. 

 

I bake this in a lidded cast iron skillet. Perfection, every time.

 

Suggest giving your early experiments to the birds. Maybe spread a bit of peanut butter on it and set it out for them: they'll love it. 

golden cornbread recipe.jpg

Edited by epster
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To me, cornbread is its best when it has a super crispy crust, moist center, and that deep savory lard flavor.
Essential tools for proper cornbread are good cornmeal, buttermilk, lard, and a cast iron skillet. The skillet should be really hot with enough lard to completely cover the bottom before pouring in the batter. The edges will actually fry and get dark. I like to use enough fat so it actually comes up the sides and pools on top after pouring the batter in. After it's done, individual slices should have a generous pat of butter placed in the middle.

This is recipe that I like the best

Edited by cowolter
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Some people overdo the sugar to the point it is almost like eating cake.  My aunt used to make small batch just cooking in a small iron skillet on the stove top and just flipping it just like a pancake.  She could make it good anyway but hers stove top was just as good as baked and seemed it was a little quicker.

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  • 2 months later...

yes i am a he.

after trying a variety of different ways aka mixes. even adjusted the temps. still comes out hard. not crumbly like it should.

still trying. not giving up yet.

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