Aunt Jemima was born as Josiah Henson, who sold his “negro” wife into slavery at age 14.
He changed her name from Rebecca after learning that she had been given this name by her master.
When he later became an enslaved man himself, he used the name Josiah A. Henson.
Josiah Henson eventually escaped from slavery with help from abolitionists William Still and Frederick Douglass.
After the Civil War ended, Henson worked as a hotel manager, and then opened up several restaurants.
His success allowed him to buy back more than 100 slaves, including his mother.
In 1892, he bought out the competing business of another restaurant owner named John R. Lynch, and renamed it The J. L. Hunley Company.
This company was named after the Confederate submarine which sank during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5th, 1863, killing all but one crew member.
What Is The History Of Aunt Jemima Cornbread?
The idea of making cornmeal mush in a pan may seem odd to you now, but it wasn’t so long ago.
Before refrigeration, people made everything they could freeze or can instead.
Cornbread has always been popular because it takes very little time to make and tastes great right away.
That’s why we have Aunt Jemima cornbread, too!
Why is cornbread called Aunt Jemima?
In 1893, the J.L. Hunley Co. hired a woman named Mary Jones to be its first cook.
She took the job without knowing what kind of food she would be cooking.
One day, while preparing breakfast for some guests, she noticed how good the cornbread tasted and decided to put it on the menu as well.
Since that day, the J.L. Hunley Company began selling their cornbread under the brand name “Aunt Jemima”.
For years, there were rumors of a black woman named Aunt Jemima living somewhere in the South.
But no one knew where exactly until 1920 when a reporter asked J.L. Hunley if he had ever met such a person.
At the time he said he hadn’t, but he did know that they should look into purchasing a home near Huntsville, Alabama.
They found a house in the town of Decatur, and in 1925, purchased it for $1,500.
For decades, the family lived there quietly as neighbors didn’t know anything about them.
How Did The Recipe For Aunt Jemima Cornbread Come About?
The original version of Aunt Jemima Corn Bread came from the J.L. Hunley Company.
The company was founded by John R. Lynch in 1888 when he purchased the rights to create a line of cookware.
The first product created under this agreement was a set of cast iron skillets.
These pans were designed to be able to withstand high temperatures without breaking down or cracking.
In order to advertise these new products, Lynch hired actor James Walker to appear in commercials for them.
At the time, Walker had recently become famous for starring in the play Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
While he didn’t actually star in the show, he was still very popular because many people felt that the portrayal of black characters in that particular play was too negative.
Lynch wanted Walker to make sure that consumers knew that they could purchase his cooking utensils safely.
To do so, he decided to hire Walker to act in advertisements where he would demonstrate how to use these items.
One day while filming an advertisement for the J.L. Hunley Co.,
Walker made a mistake and called the dish Aunt Jemima instead of using the correct term, corn bread.
Walker continued to call corn bread by its incorrect name until Lynch told him to stop.
However, the error stuck with him, and soon he began calling any food cooked in a skillet, whether it was fried chicken or biscuits, “corn bread.”
Eventually, the name caught on, and soon Aunt Jemima was being used to describe several different types of foods.
When the company introduced their pancake mix in 1901, they also included a photo of Walker dressed in blackface alongside the brand name “Aunt Jemima.”
They hoped that this would give customers the idea that if you added water to the mix, you could make pancakes just like Walker did in the advertisement.
This wasn’t the only problem that the company faced though.
Their marketing campaign was criticized for making light of slavery, and some African-Americans even refused to eat their products due to this controversy.
Ultimately, the company lost most of their market share over the next few years.
What Are The Ingredients In Aunt Jemima Cornbread?
The following list includes some of the most common ingredients found in Aunt Jemima cornbread recipes:
- Cornmeal-based batter (usually yellow or white)
- Powdered sugar
- Baking powder
In addition to these basic ingredients, many Aunt Jemima cornbread recipes include other spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cocoa, vanilla extract, and even orange zest!
How Do You Make Aunt Jemima Cornbread?
This traditional type of cornbread originated in the 1800s when African-American men would use cornmeal as currency in their businesses.
They would grind it and sell it to other black people.
During the time period, they called the cornmeal “coon bread,” because it looked like coonskin caps.
Eventually, white folks started calling it “cornbread” and made it into a sweet dish.
The original recipe for Cornbread calls for using lard or shortening instead of butter.
However, since we don’t have either of those things around anymore, I decided to go ahead and substitute some margarine.
You can also add any kind of spices you want — cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, cloves, etc. — if you want them!
If you’re not familiar with making cornbread, you will need a cast iron skillet.
If you don’t own one already, you should definitely invest in one before starting this recipe.
My favorite brand of cast iron skillets come with handles on both sides (if your pan doesn’t) so you won’t burn yourself while cooking.
What Makes Aunt Jemima Cornbread So Special?
The first thing we need to know about making Aunt Jemima cornbread is what cornmeal actually is.
Cornmeal is simply ground dried corn kernels.
There are two main types of cornmeal available in grocery stores today: yellow and white (or cream).
Yellow cornmeal has larger pieces of kernel and is darker in color.
White or cream cornmeal has smaller pieces of kernel and tends to be whiter.
If you have either type of cornmeal, the next step is to measure 3 cups of flour (sifted if necessary), 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.
Then add your measured water and stir until mixed together well.
You may not use every last drop of liquid, however!
If there isn’t enough liquid to form a dough, just add some additional milk or water.
Once your batter is fully combined, pour the mixture onto a greased pan such as an 8×8-inch square cake pan or 9×13 inch rectangular casserole dish.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius) or until golden brown.
This recipe will yield 12 servings of cornbread. However, since each serving only contains 4 tablespoons of butter, this is still quite healthy.
Plus, the butter adds flavor to the bread without adding too much fat.
What Is The Secret To The Perfect Aunt Jemima Cornbread?
The secret to making the perfect Aunt Jemima cornbread lies in using fresh ingredients.
You will need to use fresh white corn kernels and flour because they both have different textures.
Use whole wheat flour if you want to make your cornbread softer, or add other grains like oats or brown rice if you want to make yours crunchier.
If you want to add additional moisture, try using half-and-half instead of regular milk.
Also, do not forget about baking soda!
Baking powder can also be used instead, depending on how much water you would like in your batter.
But baking soda has the added benefit of being able to leaven baked goods without any yeast.
It works its way through the dough, reacting with acids created within the food itself.
Finally, there is no substitute for butter here.
Butter gives the bread its rich flavor and texture, and helps create a crust that is crisp enough to hold onto some of the liquid that may seep out while cooking.
What Are Some Of The Best Tips For Making Aunt Jemima Cornbread?
The following tips are based on my own personal experience in baking with cornmeal, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar.
I have also done extensive research online, and have found many other resources to be helpful.
- Make sure your oven is preheated before adding the batter to the pan (if using cast iron). If your oven isn’t preheated, set the temperature at 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. You may need to adjust cooking time depending on your particular situation.
- If using a non-stick skillet, coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil.
- You should always let your batter cool completely before removing it from the pan. If you try to remove it while hot, you will end up with a very dry and tough cake or bread product.
- When mixing together your ingredients, use a wooden spoon instead of a whisk. You won’t get any lumps if you mix them slowly and carefully.
- Use only unsalted butter when making cornbread. Salted butter has too much salt content and will ruin the flavor of your cornbread.
- Don’t overmix your batter. Overly stirred batters tend to produce dense cakes/biscuits rather than light and airy ones like those made with corn flour.
- While not required, you can add 1 tablespoon of bacon grease to your batter. Bacon fat adds moisture to your cornbread without altering its taste.
- Always remember to measure your liquid ingredients first. Too much water will cause your cornbread to become soggy and heavy.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients gradually so they don’t clump together. Add half of your wet ingredients at once, followed by the remaining half, stirring well between each addition.
- Do NOT stir vigorously! Cornbreads are meant to retain their shape and texture. Stirring too frequently results in mushiness.
- After combining all of your ingredients, pour the mixture into your prepared pan, covering the entire surface area. Make sure there aren’t any empty spaces left uncovered.
- Bake for 15 to 30 minutes or until the top begins to turn golden brown. You can test for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the cornbread. If it comes out clean, it’s done!
- Allow your warm cornbread to sit for 10 to 20 minutes before cutting it open. This allows the steam inside to escape and lets the crust firm up a little bit.
How Can You Make Aunt Jemima Cornbread Even Better?
Here’s what else you need to know about Aunt Jemima cornbread:
- It has 7 grams of protein per serving.
- The bread contains no trans fats or cholesterol.
- You can bake it in a muffin tin instead of a regular pan.
- There are only four ingredients (cornmeal, sugar, flour, and salt), so you won’t have to worry much about measuring them properly.
- This cornbread is made without eggs or butter.
- This bread isn’t very sweet, so if you’re looking for something sweeter, try these recipes for chocolate chip cookies and banana nut bread.
- If you don’t like adding too many spices, then this recipe will be perfect for you!
- If you want to add cheese to your cornbread, here’s how to make cheesy biscuits.
- For those who love baked goods, here are 10 ways to decorate dessert cakes.
- Here’s one way to get rid of extra water in your cake batter.
- Here’s a trick to keep your frosting fresh.
- These 9 baking hacks will change your life.
- This simple trick will stop your cookie dough from sticking to your hands.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Making Aunt Jemima Cornbread
If you love Aunt Jemima cornbread, there is probably something not quite right about your recipe.
Some of these mistakes include using too much water or oil in the batter, over-mixing the dough, using old flour, and using stale bread instead of fresh.
- Too Much WaterIncluding too much water will cause the cornbread to be soggy. Using less water will result in a tougher crust.
- Over MixingThe process of mixing the ingredients together causes them to absorb each other’s flavors, creating a uniform taste throughout the entire dish. Over mixing the dough will create a tough cakey texture rather than tender fluffy crumbs.
- Using Old FlourMost recipes require freshly milled flour, like whole wheat flour, because it has retained its moisture content longer than regular white flour. If you use old flour, the resulting cornbread won’t rise properly.
- Stale BreadInstead of using fresh baked bread, many cooks choose to use stale bread. Stale bread has lost its moisture content, so it doesn’t work well with baking recipes. Instead, look for fresh bread that hasn’t been sitting around for long periods of time.
- 1 Oven
- 1 cup Aunt Jemima Enriched Yellow Corn Meal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Set your oven’s temperature to 425 degrees.
- Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a sizable bowl.
- Oil, milk, and egg are added. For about a minute, beat the mixture until it is smooth.
- For 20 to 23 minutes, pour the mixture into a prepared 8-inch square baking pan. Insert a toothpick in the centre to determine when the food is done. It is finished if the results are clear.