Old Fashioned Skillet Cake (or Plain Cake)

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This recipe isn’t for cornbread, but since this cake is cooked in a cast iron skillet and comes out looking like cornbread, today’s story is about cornbread.  Now, I don’t think I’ve told y’all this story before, but if I have, y’all just bare with me a minute here.  Back when Heather and I were first dating, I took her to meet my family and have dinner with my grandparents one Sunday.  Heather was trying her best to impress my family and was trying to help out with preparing supper when she grabbed a knife and started to cut up the cornbread.  Well, if you’re from an old school Southern family, then you know we “break” bread, not cut it.  And somehow Heather had missed this little jewel of Southern etiquette and was about to hack away.  Well, my usually quiet grandfather, seeing what was about to happen, piped up with one of his typical Papa-style disapproving grunts and just about scared poor Heather to death.  I thought she was going to run out of the room in tears at one point.  We all got a big laugh out of it and Heather can even laugh about it now too.  She got welcomed into the family that day and never since then has she gone at cornbread with a knife.  Bless her heart.

This recipe is one from my great aunt.  Though I never got the chance to meet her, she had a whole mess of children and when you’re poor, you just have to do what you have to do to make ends meet.  This was an easy, inexpensive treat for her family.  Mom pulled this recipe out of her recipe box for me and it was dated 1976.  I love old recipes.  And y’all also know how I love simple recipes – not only because they are easy, but also because I love simple flavors.  This is real favorite of mine because of that.  The way the sugar hardens against that cast iron skillet gives the crust a crunchy texture that I really like.  It’s great served with some fresh fruit and whipped cream or perhaps even a little bit of chocolate sauce.





  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Grease a large (12 inch), well-seasoned cast iron skillet by pouring  a little vegetable oil in the skillet and coat it using a paper towel.
  3. Add batter to skillet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and set.  Allow to cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes before turning the cake out. 
Old Fashioned Skillet Cake (or Plain Cake)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Grease a large (12 inch), well-seasoned cast iron skillet by pouring a little vegetable oil in the skillet and coat it using a paper towel.
  3. Add batter to skillet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and set. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes before turning the cake out.
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  1. Marylyn Gillespie says:

    I am trying to NOT rush to the kitchen to make this — yes I have self-rising flour on hand but, sad to say, it is Gold Medal and not White Lily. When I married my southern raised husband at age 40 and he started taking me to visit his family I certainly learned a lot about cooking that was not mid-western. but I won’t make the cake today — because I have a peach cobbler to finish, made using a method (not a recipe — did she even have a recipe?) from his sister taught to me 30 plus years ago. So enjoy your site — and, oh, yes, when I do make this cake I will stir up the batter in my ‘so fun!’ bowls I won. Thanks once again.

  2. Debbie Strum says:

    WOW! I never had heard about not cutting cornbread before! Gotta remember that piece of Southern charm! That’s the best ‘something new’ I learned today! I’ll have to try this recipe soon. A friend bought be a BIG bottle of Watkins double-strength vanilla and I’ll bet that would be great used in this cake! Thank you!

  3. Kim Osburn says:

    My Bigmama used to make a simple cake like this and pour warm fudge sauce made with Hershey’s Cocoa over it. She never measured and she baked it in a single layer cake pan. But I’m thinking this is gonna be just similar enough to work. I had never heard of the not cutting the cornbread thing either. Maybe that’s why it always tears up on me before I can get it out of the pan. LOL. Love your blog. Thank You for sharing this recipe.

  4. I found this recipe (and then your blog) on Pinterest. I made this cake tonight and love it! The texture is great and it’s not too, too sweet – even with the two cups of sugar. I didn’t have a 12 inch cast iron skillet so I used my 10 inch and just increased the cooking time a little. I will definitely be getting a larger skillet. I love cooking in cast iron. I’ve saved your blog to my Favorites list. We Southerners have the best food in the world! Keep the recipes coming!

  5. I use to make this cake a lot with my grandmother and when I first get married, but over the years I had forgotten about it. I’m so glad you reminded me and I plan on making it sometime this week. But I have never heard of not cutting corn bread before , I’m born and raised in the South, by parents born and raised in the South, by their parents born and raised in South, by the appearance that was born and raised in the South,by their parents who where slaves in the south and we always use the knife on the corn bread, except for fried corn bread.

  6. I am from Tennessee, born and raised, and we always broke our cornbread too! My Mom always baked hers in an iron skillet and I love the crispy bottom and sides!

    • LOL!! Glad we weren’t the only ones! It’s hard to beat hot cornbread right out of the skillet!

      • Cynthia A. Greenfeather says:

        My parents were from Arkansas. We cut the cornbread from the plate, but then, crumbled it up when we had beans, onto our plates, and poured the beans over it. Sometimes, when I make cornbread and beans, and the breads too hot to crumble by hand, I’ll cut it into pieces, then put the beans on top, and believe it or not, it doesn’t taste the same that way! Our minds are powerful things!

  7. My mother was from the south. My grandmother cooked on a old wood burning stove.
    How she didn’t burn things is beyond me. She used to make this cake and put a meringue
    icing on it.

    You haven’t eaten until you’ve had cornbread, pinto beans, and blackberry cobbler (made from fresh picked blackberries) cooked on a wood burning stove!

  8. Am looking for a old fashion syrup cake also baked in a iron frying pan if you have one please send it to me ======= Thanks Connie

  9. My grandmother used to make this and we called it cornbread cake. She passed away many years ago. I have thought about this cake many times and regreted no one in our family had the recipe. I am glad to see it on your site. Can’t wait to make it.

  10. Shay Billings says:

    I made this but I added a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Wow! It’s amazing!

  11. Stella Wilson says:

    Got my Southern Bite cookbook in the mail today and the skillet cake is in the oven in my cast iron skillet my mother gave me 48 years ago. A lot of fried chicken has been cooked in that skillet.

  12. Gayle Spears says:

    Today is my son’s 20th birthday and I had planned to make him a yellow cake (boxed) with homemade frosting. Of course, was completely out of cake mix. My daughter told me “to just make a homemade cake”. That got me started looking for a plain cake. Found your reciepe and Oh My Word! It was so easy and the cake was wonderful! I topped it with a homemade chocolate frosting. So good! Thanks for the idea!! Love your cookbook and website!

  13. Shirley Lindsey says:

    Stacey, this reminds me of my Mother’s depression era recipe for “something sweet”. She called it
    1 C. Self Rising flour
    1 C. Plain Cornmeal
    1 egg
    3/4 ro 1 C. Milk
    1 C. Sugar, or less
    2 or 3 T. Oil (butter might be better, but she said oil, so I use oil)
    Nutmeg to taste
    Mix and bake in cast iron skillet.

    Southern by the Grace of God

  14. Just discovered your site searching for a recipe and this cake reminds me of my grandmother. My southern memaw would bake a simple cake in her cast iron skillet. She would put the skillet over the heat and melt a few spoons of butter, then throw in some chopped pecans and pour a simple little cake batter over that and bake it. When it came out of the oven she would turn the cake upside down on a clean kitchen towel in the middle of the table and cut wedges from it and tell us to butter it while it was hot. The only place I ever ate hot buttered cake cooked in a cast iron skillet and it was really good. Will be checking out your other recipes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Wow, Fran! That sounds amazing!

      • Hi, Stacey. So glad that I found your site. I plan on making this cake very soon. 🙂 This may be the cake that my sister-in-law used to make when I was a kid. I remember the texture resembling cornbread and I remembered the color as being a rich yellow. I could be wrong about the color though. Can you substitute melted butter for the oil? If you do, would it change the texture or taste of this cake?

  15. Just one question, the oil in the recipe is just for greasing the pan and not for the batter, right? I’m a novice, but I want to make a simple cake for my friends’ birthday.

  16. Hi, I found your web site by reading a cooking magazine, but what stopped me in my tracks was this recipe. When I was a little girl and surrounded by cousins my grandmother would make a cake like this. I believe she called it “Puddin’ Cake”. Off and on I have searched for this recipe. The cousins and I could hardly wait for the cake to come out of the skillet. Your recipe seems very much the same as my grandmother’s.

    • Welcome, Tricia! That is certainly a prized recipe for my family. I hope that you’ll try it and that it will bring a little of your sweet grandmother back to you!

  17. I’m making this tomorrow! I’m so glad I found your website (thanks, Christy Jordan!) Have already made many of your recipes and more to try. Love your website!

  18. do you have a simple chocolate sauce recipe to pour over this cake recipe? My granma used to keep a cake recipe very similar to yours in the cabinet for all the grandchildren to eat at any time of the day or night. Thank you!

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