So yesterday afternoon I participated in A Taste of Old Colony History.  This month was Johnnycakes (the previous two I had participated in were on Whoopie Pies and Boston Cream Pies).  I have long wanted to make these so I actually traded away my day work shift yesterday so I could do this.  I told myself it was good for my mental health.

So here is our kitchen ready to go.  I have most of the ingredients on the left, and the zooming laptop on the right.  The stove is on the far left off the photo where the action mostly occurred.

We started with the presenter providing a history of the cakes, originally felt to be called journey cakes for their ability to endure a long trip and provide energy for it.  Then we dove into the South County Method.  I started with a medium coarse corn meal, and I made these cakes with some sugar, salt and boiling water.  I (and other participants) had to add extra corn meal as the mix was too thin initially.  Here they are frying with one flipped.

They are supposed to be thick and more like a biscuit.  Below are mine cooked up.  When I tasted one though it was a little raw in the middle.  So I put it in the oven and baked it more.

I decided that maybe the issue was the coarse corn meal.  So I made another batch with 1/2 medium coarse and 1/2 fine grind.  Here are those cooking. The other issue was that I was using our lard to oil the pan.  Our lard usually handles high temperatures well, but this was smoking and finally set off the smoke alarms, frightening our beagle pup (her first time hearing those alarms).  So I switched during this batch to safflower oil with less smoke.  I am thinking my lard may be getting older.

Here is the second batch of the South County Johnnycakes.  They were better cooked.  This style of cake is supposed to be served with butter, but there was also mention of using cheese (like parmesan) and black pepper.  They can also accompany chowder.  More of a savory dish.

Then came the Newport County Method.  This is corn meal, sugar, salt and milk.  I used the fine grind for these ones.  For me (and others) this batter was too thin as well so added extra corn meal.  These are supposed to be like pancakes with lacey brown edges.  Here are mine in the pan.

And flipped.  Now all of these johnnycakes are supposed to have a smile indentation when flipped due to the effects of the spoon used to plop them in the pan.  I must have done something wrong as I could not see any smiles.  You are supposed to drizzle some oil on the uncooked side before flipping.  I (and others) cheated a little and used spray oil.  I forgot to on this first batch of the Newports, but it didn’t seem to matter.  The Newport ones are supposed to be served with butter and maple syrup.

So we had Johnnycakes for dinner with some of our sausage.  The left upper is the first batch of the South County Method using the medium coarse grind.  To the right is the Sound County with the medium coarse and fine mixed.  And on the left bottom are the Newport County ones.

It was a fun dinner.  We both preferred the Newport ones which were really yummy and a nice alternative to pancakes  Of course, most anything tastes better with maple syrup.  I once again felt bad for the portions of the world where maple syrup is not readily available, like England.  So sad.

After this fun dinner I had to run off to work where I had a brutal shift.  But at least my tummy was full of johnnycakes to sustain my journey!

Here are the recipes (originally from Kenyon’s Grist Mill) with my added suggestions.  The presenter had purchased their corn meal for her recipes which appeared to turn out better.  She is lucky enough to have several grist mills in her area (not so much here).  But I am thinking I can order some of Kenyon’s meal before my next batch of these cakes.

So I feel like I know a lot more about johnnycakes now so am happy.  Next month’s event is on pizzas.  Unfortunately I am scheduled to work, but I might be able to watch some anyway.  I know how to make homemade pizza from scratch, but I will likely learn more about the history of pizza in the colonies.

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2 Responses to Johnnycakes

  1. Jeanne says:

    You did have quite a time, didn’t you?! It would be interesting to try them. But my #1 daughter can’t eat corn, so I don’t feel inclined to make them just for myself and leave her out. They do look delicious! It’s interesting to see the differences in the various recipes. I’m definitely impressed! Sorry you had to work that brutal shift, afterward, though.

    • Donna says:

      I did have a nice time. The differences were fun. I am sorry you will not be able to try them and probably not next month’s pizza either. Donna

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