People have strong opinions about cornbread. Should it be made from white cornmeal or yellow? Sweetened or not? Do you include flour in the batter? Any which way you like it, one of the beautiful things about cornbread is its versatility, making it easily adaptable to personal taste. While add-ins like bacon, cheese, onion, and chiles are common, a shot or two of a neutral spirit makes a worthy addition, too.
Alcohol works wonders in baking by heightening the aromas and flavors of the other ingredients, and unlike wine or bourbon, moonshine does this without leaving behind its own distinctive flavor notes. Alcohol is volatile and evaporates at a lower temperature than water. As it does, it retards gluten formation, which is why bakers use vodka in pie dough for flakier crusts. Unflavored moonshine works similarly in this cornbread recipe that includes flour, creating a lighter, more tender texture. Almost magically, the alcohol’s ability to bind fat with liquid also amplifies this simple skillet cornbread’s rich, sweet corn essence and buttermilk tang.