Southern Hoecakes



I bought a bag of corn flour the other day for a recipe and started to think about uses for it other than cornbread.  I almost immediately thought of hoecakes. Ok, so I didn’t exactly think of a use for the flour, but it is a corn-based recipe.  I’ve never had a hoecake before and was always curious about what exactly it was. My grandmother was from southern Georgia and I grew up around hot water cornbread.  (I hated it as a child, but now I love them.)

My research, of course, began and ended on the web.  It seems that hoecakes, johnnycakes, shawnee cakes and yes hot water cornbread are the same thing (again, according to the web).  I guess the biggest difference would be the ingredients.  Depending on the region, amounts of sugar will vary, and some recipes don’t use baking powder or baking soda at all (including my grandmother).  I even found a recipe by Paula Deen (no judging) that asked for Aunt Jemima mix.  Another one used Jiffy mix.  Intrigued, I settled on a recipe found on Deep South Dish.

I didn’t have any self-rising flour, so I made my own: 1 cup flour + 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder + ½ teaspoon salt.  Since this was a brand new adventure, I followed the recipe to the letter and didn’t change anything.  I decided to fry the cakes in butter attempting to get that crispy butter ring that forms on the edges (my new dream is have a cast iron skillet to cook these in).  They looked and smelled awesome.  As soon as one was done, I called my son into the kitchen so we could try one together.  It basically tasted like fried cornbread.  It was very good, but it tasted like corn….bread, and a little dry at that.  We committed to having them for breakfast, so I finished cooking them and warmed the syrup.  Holy crap!  Adding syrup made all the difference.  They were awesome!  The cakes absorbed every bit of syrup, so you don’t need much, but they were very, very good.  I even switched out my maple syrup for a little old-fashioned cane syrup (more like a sweet molasses) and felt like I was down south.  I think the next time I make these, I will add a little more milk to make them a little thinner and a tad moist and maybe a pinch more sugar.

Southern Hoecakes

  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 1 cup of cornmeal ((I used a coarse stone ground))
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (, optional (I would add at least 2))
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk ((plus more to thin batter))
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of canola (, for frying, or canola combined with a bit of butter)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar. Measure out the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup, and add to that the water and oil; blend well. Add eggs and mix well; combine with dry ingredients. Heat oil and butter in a cast iron skillet over medium to medium high and drop batter by about 1/8 cup measures into the hot skillet to form small medallions.
  2. Fry until brown and crisp, turn and brown the other side. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with warm syrup for breakfast or as a snack.

Adapted from Deep South Dish

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