Sourdough Cornbread for Martin Luther King Day

Sourdough Cornbread for Martin Luther King Day

The Rev. G.H. Williams explains life in the Martin Luther King household (see the whole article at Atlanta neighborhood commemorates childhood of civil rights leader)

Today is a national holiday remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. In his honor, we looked into some of his favorite foods and learned this from the Rev. G.H. Williams, who at 87 years of age, serves as a guide at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.

As he gives tours of the King’s home, in the kitchen area he informs visitors, that a favorite meal at the home “was the Sunday feast of fried chicken, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and cornbread.”

While I am not sure of his family recipe, I am sure that this one adapted from See the Beauty in the Ordinary will be. This is how Bev Sullivan describes her recipe:

“Until recently, I would not have been among the cornbread lovers. It was okay piping hot out of the oven, but then? Not so much. But now. Now I have a recipe I like and one I’m glad to share with you. Baked in a cast-iron skillet, a crisp crust surrounds a lovely moist center. Try it and I think you’ll join the crowd who loves cornbread.”

Sourdough Cornbread Recipe



Cornmeal Levain

  • 1½ cup (240 g) sourdough starter
  • 1½ cup (180 g) cornmeal
  • 1 cup (240 g) milk
  1. Six to twelve hours before your bake, combine all of these ingredients.
  2. Mix well and set aside in a warm (room temperature) place.

(NOTE: soaking cornmeal overnight increases the flavor)


  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup bacon drippings, butter or vegetable oil

optional: one can of drained corn

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF (220°C).
  2. Spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with oil and place in oven while it heats.
  3. Mix cornmeal, sugar and salt in a bowl. 
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix well with the levain.
  5. Pour into a hot skillet and bake for 15–20 minutes. With a hot skillet, it will bake quickly.
  6. Serve warm with butter and honey if desired.

In the comment section below we would love to hear about your experience using sourdough and cornmeal. And don’t forget to check out my Sourdough Cornbread Muffin recipe.

Author: Darryl Alder, retired Scouter and outdoorsman, who spent too many hours over a campfire using a dutch oven, and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire. 

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