To Kill A Mockingbird: Crackling Bread

Today is the 5oth anniversary of To Kill A Mockingbird, so I thought I would repost the Food In Fiction recipes from last year.

Originally posted October 21, 2009

Crackling Bread

The book that had the greatest influence over me as a child was To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I read it for the first time when I was 12 and have read it every year or two since. My Gram Rullo gave me a hardbound copy that is probably my favorite gift ever – except for the two special rings my brothers won at the county fair when they are little and gave to me. Those I keep in a ring case in my jewelry box.

To Kill a Mockingbird is filled with food, good southern food, that as a child I’d never heard of before. It was an exotic world filled with scuppernongs and Lane cakes and of course, Bo Radley. I’ll start with Crackling Bread:

Perhaps Calpurnia sensed that my day had been a grim one: she let me watch her fix supper. “Shut your eyes and open your mouth and I’ll give you a surprise,” she said. It was not often that she made crackling bread, she said she never had time, but with both of us at school the day had been an easy one for her. She knew I loved crackling bread. “I missed you today,” she said.

Crackling Bread

  • 1 1/2 c. cracklings or crisp bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups white cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven ot 450° and grease a heavy oven-proof skillet (cast iron works great). Or preheat to 350° and grease 12 count muffin tin, but do not preheat the tin.

Sift together dry ingredients and then mix in cracklings. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add buttermilk and egg. If batter seems to thick, you can add a bit of water.  Pour into a hot, greased skillet. Bake in 450 degree oven (or 375 degrees for muffins) for about 25 minutes or until light brown.

2 thoughts on “To Kill A Mockingbird: Crackling Bread

  1. The way you made the crackling bread is similar to the way I was taught over 45 years ago. As I got older I used the yellow sweet ready mixed cornmeal. I am impressed with the use of literature to recreate recipes. I would like to try that out since I am a southerner who lives in a world that is largely hispanic who have very similar recipes – and uses what I thought was primarily south ingredients; like pork. Often they assume the credit for many of the recipes I had credited to non-hispanic relatives.Maybe it is the fact that the my state was “discovered” by hispanic explorers?
    I am curious about your knowledge of scuppernogs. I remember them to be large green grape like fruit that popped when you bit into them. The only issue with them for me was the sometime irritant affecting my outer lips. I still enjoyed them, though. Thanks for the moment down memory lane.


    • Thanks for the comment. I really enjoyed tracking down the actual recipes for the book. And I did end up making a Lane Cake which was a hit for everyone. I’d love to explore some more southern cooking as well, there seems to be a depth to the foods south of the mason-dixon line that can’t really be matched by any other area of the country, even with the diversity of our populations.


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