Early Colonial Cornbread and Hand-Churned Butter

Home / Early Colonial Cornbread and Hand-Churned Butter - February 13, 2018 , by renee

Going back a century in time means a few changes for modern-day Emilie. First she’s alarmed by layers and layers of constricting clothing — fine muslins and silks, sashes, belts, high-heeled boots, hats, gloves and fancy umbrellas. The women who wore these items in 1913 wouldn’t have churned their own butter, which is probably why Emilie finds herself wearing too-large clothing of Liam’s and a sash to hold it all in place as Kara teaches her to turn cream into butter in their cabin kitchen.

Early 1900s kitchen in Montana. Photo credit: Shawn Mathes

How butter comes to be might not be something you’ve ever given much thought too, either, so I thought I’d share some information about the traditional process, along with a simple recipe for early colonial cornbread, which you can bake at home and slather with butter (store-bought is fine!) and honey.

This simple bread might very well have made an appearance on Kara and Gabe’s table — the original method is over an open flame, but I recommend you use your oven.


Recipe originally published in Kinfolk Magazine and modified over many mornings of making bread.

You will need:

  • 1 c. cornmeal
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil



Preheat your oven and cast-iron pot to 400°F. While the oven and pot are warming, combine the dry and wet ingredients into a bowl and stir only enough to mix. Remove the warm pot from the oven and add a small amount of vegetable oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pot. Add your bread mixture, cover the pot and return it to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. You will know it’s done when the bread has set in the centre and lightly springs back to the touch. Slather with butter and honey. Enjoy!

Let me know in the comments if you tried this at home and enjoyed it! 

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