Historic Johnnycakes Recipe

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Courtesy Image

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Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 cups white cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Unsalted butter for greasing pan, plus more for serving
  • Syrup, for serving

In a medium bowl, sift together cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar. In a small saucepan, combine milk and 1 cup water and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, immediately remove from heat and whisk into cornmeal mixture, stirring until batter is smooth.

Grease a large cast iron skillet or hoecake pan with butter or bacon drippings and preheat over medium heat. Spoon batter onto hot skillet, forming 3-inch cakes and being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, greasing the skillet as needed. Serve hot with butter and syrup.

  • From Sweet Home Café Cookbook, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Books, 2018

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