Hoecakes. Johnny Cakes. Shawnee Cakes. Cornmeal Flatbread. Cornmeal Pancakes.
They have many names but the ingredients are essentially the same. It’s basically less-sweet cornbread in pancake form. Most recipes use self-rising cornmeal and self-rising flour so no leavening agents are used. However, I created a mixture that allows you to add leavening agents to plain all-purpose flour and natural cornmeal.
There’s “hot-cake debate” (I can’t be helped) regarding the origin. Some say the Native Americans were the first to create these pancakes. Others say Jamaicans brought them over. My understanding is that in the American South during the 1700s, farmers and travelers would gather around their campfires, place the hoecake batter directly on a garden hoe positioned over the open fire, and then flip them and eat them with their hands. That’s where the name apparently originates. It was simple and easy. And the original recipes used only cornmeal, water, and salt so it was very inexpensive.
Fast-forward to modern day. In the South, hoecakes are served at Thanksgiving dinner as an alternative to cornbread and dinner rolls. They seem to be the perfect vehicle to soak up any leftover gravy and sauce on your plate. Personally, nothing compares to Gayle’s One Hour Dinner Rolls so I instead enjoyed these hoecakes straight from the griddle with butter and a drizzle of honey. They’re best consumed immediately.
They’re not as sweet as cornbread (using only 1 tbsp. of sugar) and not as fluffy as pancakes (because of the grit from the cornmeal) so they really are unique. If you grew up eating these or know any more about them, I’d love to hear everything! How do you traditionally serve them? What ingredients do you incorporate? Thank you!