Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Life Before IHOP - Hi, My Name's Johnny, and These Are My Cakes

You've just been transported back to colonial America. You've been up since dawn, doing colonial stuff, and you're hungry for breakfast. You open the cupboard to grab a couple of Pop-Tarts to toss in the fireplace. There are no Pop-Tarts. You decide to settle for some pancakes, and reach for the Bisquick. There's no Bisquick. Okay, you decide to make your own pancakes from scratch. You check for the flour and baking powder. Again, you are denied. The only thing you have is ground corn and water. What do ye do…what do ye do?

Make Johnnycakes!
This video recipe, I did recently for About.com, shows how to make America's first pancake, the Johnnycake. Nowadays, the Johnnycake is nothing more than a regular pancake batter with a little cornmeal sprinkled in, but that's not what it used to be. I decided to stay true to the earliest johnnycake recipes I could find, which were just fried cornmeal gruel. The Indians showed the early settlers how to make a basic cornmeal mush, which pretty much kept them alive in the early days, before Pop-Tarts. Well, if you have leftover cornmeal mush around, and some bacon fat, and a frying pan, you can turn that cornmeal into the surprisingly delicious Johnnycakes. Check out this video recipe, and experience what breakfast was like 300 years ago. Enjoy.
Click here for the transcript and ingredients.

20 comments:

Oh said...

http://www.laprovadelcuoco.rai.it/levideoricette/0,9740,,00.html


I know t s in Italian but there are a lot of nice videoricette :)

Sorina said...

Excellent instructions and video. Awesome Post!

Anonymous said...

An inspiring culinary vacation in a beautiful locale, and you come back with...Johnnycakes?!

LOL-Just kidding! I made these with some great stone ground corn this morning, and topped them with some real maple syrup-they were great! Thanks for the recipe.

Chef John said...

BTW, if any of you live near a Trader Joes, they sell a GREAT cheap Grade B Maple syrup that rocks.

Jairus said...

who woulda thought? bacon and pancakes? mmmm

Ellen in Conn said...

We Swamp-Yankees in Southern New England believe that jonnycakes should be made with white flint cornmeal. Never yellow. I put in more boiling water than you did, so they come out very thin; and only with butter on top. Syrup is for regular pancakes. Tradition! I get the cornmeal from Kenyon's in Usquepaugh.

Chef John said...

OK, I'll give you the white cornmeal point, but I have strong evidence that maple syrup was used on corn mush and johnnycakes when New England was really "new" Thanks!

hkfreak said...

A Promo for your cakes: New from New England, It's New Johnnycakes! Newly made with newly found cornmeal, newly rendered pork fat, newly mined salt, new sap from the maple tree, and a new plate. All New! So in the New New England, try these New Johnnycakes, New at your new local New Safeway in New Bedford, New Malden, New Boston, New Plymouth, New....


heh.

Anonymous said...

hey today me and my friends are making johnnycakes and i accidently put in some pepper .. would that ruin it?

Anonymous said...

i got polent corn meal will that also work? theres white stuff in the corn meal

Chef John said...

that may be a bit too course ground. I would use corn meal

Anonymous said...

holy crap, these are filling.

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I just made these for my family this morning (we're kind of low on food stuffs b/c of the economy), and I have to say BRAVO to you! Everyone loved them, they were hearty, flavorful, and very economical! :) Thank you for helping us weather these tough times!

Yubi Shines said...

I dunno if my taste buds are more sensitive or what, but when I made these they turned out nearly too salty. It's a good thing I skipped on using the bacon, or they might have been overpowering. Still good stuff, though!

Chef John said...

salt is always to taste, add and taste, add and taste

TornadoChaser said...

I had an odd problem this morning. I had to add twice the 1.5c water to the recipe to thin the mix. At 1c corn meal and 1.5c water I had a very thick paste.

Has anyone else ran into this problem or are physics a bit different up here in Minnesota?

Thanks.

Chef John said...

it is a thick paste, and not really a pourable batter. Well, you saw the film so you saw how thick it was. But as long as it worked. Maybe you do have different physics! ;-)

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh! I used to eat these when i was little. My grandma used to make these. In the South they called them Hot Water Cornbread and you're right! they really do taste good, esp with the bacon fat oil..mmmmmmmm! Thanks for the video. I love your recipes!

Anonymous said...

Restaurant style pancakes?????

Anonymous said...

Seeing as you made 3 and had a lot of batter left, I guess this keeps well in the fridge?

Looks delicious I'll probably whip out some batter, try a few with maple syrup and add some on the side next time I make a big breakfast.

as always, love your videos.