Corn Bread recipe more than 100 years old

Corn Bread Recipe

This original recipe is from an historic inn formerly located in Omena, Michigan that was called “The Oaks”.  This recipe is from the year 1915 or thereabouts. It was actually served at that inn!!

Corn Bread Recipe

The Corn Bread Recipe from the Oaks of Omena circa 1915.

This recipe is a classic example of they way recipes were written compared to how we do it today. Recipes often gave very little instruction because they assumed you knew the basics. This recipe is merely a list of ingredients. Including some abbreviations/words that might be a mystery to folks today. That is 3 tablespoons of sugar because an uppercase T means a tablespoon. And that is 2 teaspoons of baking powder because a lowercase T means a teaspoon. In this case that the b. In front of the word powder means baking powder. Late 19th and 20th century cornbread recipes typically call for inorganic/chemical leaveners such as baking powder or the mix of cream of tartar and baking soda. 

Sweet milk means fresh milk. The kitchen where this corn bread was baked most likely did not have pasteurized milk. So on most days they probably had some fresh milk and some milk that was going a bit sour. Fresh, unpasteurized milk goes sour fairly quickly. Of course sour does not mean spoiled but that is a whole other topic! I’m not sure why the recipe calls for yellow corn meal vs. white corn meal. That is something for me to learn about. I have used white and yellow corn meal in this recipe with good results from both. Below are some additional instructions for this recipe. This is how I put together the ingredients.. 

½ cup butter

3 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup corn meal

3 eggs

1 cup milk


  • Read the entire recipe before beginning. Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature especially the milk and eggs which you will probably pull from your fridge. You might want to set those things out on the counter the night before. You can skip this step but it does make the final bread just a bit nicer. 
  • Butter the baking dish. I usually use 2 cast iron corn bread pans  which makes about 20 individual small servings. You could also bake this in a cast iron frying pan. Or you could bake it in a typical rectangular baking/casserole dish.
  • Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside and allow to cool to room temp.
  • Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. 
  • In another bowl beat the eggs till mixed well and then add milk and beat again until well mixed.
  • Pour the egg/milk combo into the dry ingredients and mix well. Do not use an electric mixer for this. A spoon and your hand are good enough. A mixer might overmix and make tunnels in the final product
  • Then slowly add/drizzle the melted butter into the batter, stirring all the while. Slowly adding the butter while constantly mixing ensures the butter mixes well into the batter and does not re-solidfy. 
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish/pans. It will about double in size when baking so only fill the baking pan/dish halfway. 
  • Bake at 425 degrees. My cast iron corn bread pans take about 20 minutes. A frying pan or baking/casserole dish would take longer. I’m not sure how much longer so you will have to pay attention. 
page or recipes from the Oaks of Omena

This is a page of recipes from an historic inn that was called “The Oaks of Omena” which was located in Omena, Michigan.


Dinner menu from the Oaks in Omena, Michigan Aug 29, 1918

This is a menu from a dinner served at The Oaks in Omena, Michigan


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5 Responses to “Corn Bread recipe more than 100 years old” Comments are currently closed.

  1. Ilene says:

    Not so complicated and sounds delicious! I will try it soon…and think of you and the Hillside Honestead!

  2. Carol says:

    Wonderful! My grandmother shared “receipts” with similar abbreviations so those are not so unfamiliar to me. However, the menu included “green corn on the cob” which is the first time I’ve ever seen that item, any insights on that item?

    Tis the season for cornbread and all those favorite dishes that accompany it on our tables.

    • Susan Odom says:

      Green Corn on the cob…. I just wrote a reply about this on facebook. Here is what I wrote.

      Eating corn on the cob was a different sort of thing back then compared to today. So green in this instance might refer to underipe field corn, which was sometimes eaten or it might mean regular sweet corn, which is what we mean today when we eat corn on the cob. Sweet corn is a different type of corn, it is sweeter and eaten green, which means not dried. Green also means fresh, so when the corn is juicy and sweet. So eating green corn means eating fresh corn.

      Field corn is left on the plant until it dries out and is then harvested. That kind of corn was historically only used for animal feed, corn meal, corn whisky and maybe a few other things. Of course today we use ‘field corn’ for all of those products plus corn syrup, fuel and all kinds of things that are made out of corn today. The world changed.

      BUT another huge part of this story is that eating corn on the cob was something one might do on vacation in a wilderness area. Eating corn on the cob was akin to eating like animals, like pigs and not something usually done at the dinner table in polite company or even with your family. So it is a very much a vacation activity to eat corn on the cob.

      The picture is from the same area about 1890. It shows a vacationing family eating corn on the cob at their platform tent site. They have a ‘hired girl’ most likely from a local farm family, she is serving the corn. They even went to the trouble to have a photo taken of their corn on the cob adventure. (I think this link will take you to that picture

      • Mercy Ingraham says:

        My understanding is that the term “green corn” was the one used by Native Americans to describe their freshly ripened corn in the field. It wasn’t actually that color. They had special religious ceremonies called “Green Corn Festival” and since we learned everything we knew initially from the Native Americans, I would guess they are being honored with the use of that term. Anyone else know for sure?