No, I didn't leave the sugar out. My family, like many other Texans, will not eat sweetened cornbread. My version is crispy on the outside and tall. We cut it into wedges like a pie. I ALWAYS use a 12" cast iron skillet to cook mine, too. On the rare occasions when we have any left over, we love to slice a piece open, put melted butter and molasses over it and eat it for dessert.
Put oil or bacon grease into a 12 inch cast iron skillet and heat on top of stove. Keep warm until ready to add to batter.
Mix dry ingredients.
Add milk and egg and stir just until combined. Do not over mix. It is okay and even desired if batter is lumpy.
Add hot oil, stirring so you don't cook the eggs as you add the oil.
Cook on high on top of stove for 30 - 45 seconds before placing in hot oven. This will give you a very crispy bottom crust.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes in a hot oven. Begin checking for doneness after about 13 minutes. Cornbread will be done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The finished product should be tall and golden brown. It will also slide right out of the skillet if you have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet.