I’m a big fan of baking cornbread in a cast-iron skillet (get the how-to in this recipe with honey, buttermilk and jalapeño), so I was excited to spot an old-fashioned cornstick pan in the window of a small-town general store for a measly six bucks.
These things are so cool. They give you all of the crusty sizzle and even baking of a cast-iron skillet, concentrated into cute little corn cob-shaped sticks. Their smaller size makes them crisper and crunchier than your typical slice of cornbread—perfect for dipping into a brothy bowl of beans.
What makes this particular pan even cooler is the history and love already baked into it. The family that runs the Red Rock General Store tells quite fascinating stories about the building being dragged by mule when the town officially moved, and the outside having been painted by a traveler in exchange for a sandwich.
The store itself was way cool. Glass bottles of varying sizes, shapes, and shades lined high shelves around its edges, and small, brightly-colored baskets of locally grown produce boasted spaceship squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes. They carried everything from ginger snaps to handheld tools to birdseed, and even had a feed store next door.
“Every so often my mom will take a look around the house and find a few things she doesn’t have use for anymore,” said the girl behind the register. “She’ll bring them here to the store and see if someone else does.” The cornstick pan was one of such things, and I was glad to take it off of her hands.
The first batch of cornsticks I baked in it came out really nice, but rather plump. I tried to pack a bunch of batter into each mold, rather than filling them just to the edge. They were great, and still had some of that soft, cakey-ness still in the middle. Next time, though, I’ll take it back a little and bake a few batches.
I’m also going to re-season it, just to break it in a little more. It’s always a good idea to season any piece of cast iron you pick up, brand new or used—we’ve got step-by-step instructions here.
To keep from compromising the seasoning, wash with just water and a stiff brush, and be sure to dry completely. You can typically find a cast-iron cornstick pan for around $20 online.