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New England Recipes Masthead I New Egnland Recipes Masthead II

Johnny Cake


1 cup Cornmeal
¼ cup white flour
1 tablespoon molasses
Hot water enough to moisten batter so it holds together

Form into small flat cakes, cook in greased pan until the first side is slightly brown turn and cook the other side this takes only a few minutes on low heat

Rhode Island White Corn Meal is available from Kenyon Corn Meal Company www.kenyonsgristmill,com This is the original corn meal used during colonial period and makes a very distinctive Johnny Cake.

History of Johnny Cake

New England Versions
Colonial Cookbook (undated) (Yankee Magazine)
Rhode Island cornmeal, salt, sugar, boiling water
Cooked like pancakes on a griddle

American Cookery (1796) by Amelia Simmons
“Johny Cake or Hoe Cake”
1) Cornmeal, flour, milk
2) Cornmeal, flour, milk, molasses, shortening, salt, cold water
No cooking instructions for either recipe, however, the name Hoe Cake suggests it was cooked on a board or piece of flat metal placed in front of the fire

“Indian Slapjack”
Cornmeal, flour, salt, eggs, milk
“Baked on gridles, or fry in a dry pan, or baked in a pan which has been rub’d wit suet, lard or butter.”

New England recipes which come from Amelia Simmons book show that both unsweetened and sweetened recipes were used. Her book is a little later than the Revolutionary period, almost to the turn of the 19th century which is reflected in the transition to a lighter version by adding eggs. New England cornbread is recognized by its sweetness verses southern cornbread which has no sweetener. Today we call Johnny Cake by another name cornbread

Southern Versions
Williamsburg Art of Cookery
“Ash Cake” (undated)
Cornmeal, salt, boiling water
Note no sugar
Cooked on cleaned off hot hearth stone with hot ash put on top of cake

“Batter Bread” (1831)
Cornmeal, flour, salt, eggs, milk
Makes a batter cooked in tin molds in oven

“Corn Pone” (1705)
A historian, Beverley wrote “some rather choose the Pone, which is the Bread made of Indian Meal.”  “… Bread is Pone, not so called from the Latin, Panis, but from the Indian Name Oppone.”

The Practical Housekeeper (1901) published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“Johnny Cakes”
Cornmeal, warm water, salt
Cook on a board tilted up in front of a fire

“Indian Griddle Cakes”
Cornmeal, flour, milk, eggs, salt
No cooking instructions – name implies the cakes were cooked on a griddle like pancakes

Southern versions do not have sugar or any type of sweetener. Cooking ranges from directly on the hearth to a board placed in front of fire, later going to a batter put into molds and baked in an oven, and griddle cakes which we call pancakes today.

Mid-Western Versions
The Buckeye Cookbook (1883) published in Minneapolis, Minnesota
“Alabama Johnny Cake”
Rice (cooked), cornmeal, butter, salt, eggs
Cooked on a board tilted up towards the fire

Cornmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, egg, sugar, milk
“Makes a thin batter” No cooking instructions but a thin batter is either fried like pancakes or baked in a cake pan.

Mid-western recipes reflect the immigration of people from the south and northeast. The Alabama Johnny Cake calls for a mix of rice and cornmeal without sweetener. The rice is a southern addition. Another southern component at this late date is the lack of a sweetener.  Cooking on a board is suggestive of early pioneer life. Whereas the Johnny-Cake contains a sweetener, sugar and is very modern, so much so that it reflects our 20th and 21st century recipes. It has rising ingredients used both in pancakes and cornbread. This suggests a home in close proximity to a city where good food supplies were available.