Makes one 8″ skillet of cornbread. Double this for a 10″ skillet.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon melted butter (or 4 tsp bacon drippings)
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup boiling water
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 450°. Place 8″ cast iron skillet with oil & butter (or drippings) in heating oven.
If you use butter, you will need to keep a close eye on it or it will burn even with the oil tempering. You can also just add the butter to the skillet right when you take it out of the oven to put the batter in.
Measure 1/3 cup cornmeal into a medium bowl. Mix remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.
Pour boiling water all at once into the bowl with 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a stiff mush. Whisk in the buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps, until smooth. Whisk in the beaten egg.
When the oven is preheated and skillet very hot, stir dry ingredients into the mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove skillet from the oven. Pour hot butter/fat from the skillet into the batter and stir to incorporate, then quickly pour batter back into the heated skillet.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and instantly turn cornbread onto a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.