Video:How to Make Johnnycakeswith John Mitzewich
Johnnycakes were America's first pancake. After tasting the delicious combination of the cornmeal cakes, bacon, and maple syrup, you'll understand why this heirloom recipe has been handed down for over 300 years.See Transcript
Transcript:How to Make JohnnycakesHi, I'm Chef John Mitzewich for About.com. Today we're making something called Johnnycakes. And Johnnycakes were America's first pancake. This cornmeal pancake only has a couple ingredients, and was taught to the early settlers by the Indians, and we're going to stick as close to the original recipe as we can.
Prepare the BaconSo we're going to start with 2 slices of bacon, diced up, in a medium hot pan. We're going to render it, meaning cook out the fat. We're going to save the crisp bacon and the fat, so once it's done get it out of the pan and reserve it.
Johnnycake IngredientsThe batter, the mixture is very simple:
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
Johnnycake OriginsThis is from the days before baking powder, baking soda. There's no egg - there's no milk. At times all they had was cornmeal and water - and luckily there was some bacon and maple syrup around. This is a real, true American heirloom recipe handed down for hundreds of years. And this tastes good too - so we're not going to just make this for historical purposes, we're going to make it because it tastes good.
Fry the JohnnycakesWe're going to take a pan on med-high heat and add about 2 tbsp of the bacon fat. Then put 2-3 tbsps of the batter into the hot oil, and it's going to fry for about 5 minutes per side. What you want is a nice crispy golden brown exterior, and it's still going to be fairly tender inside.
Naming JohnnycakesNow, these are not leavened, meaning there's no baking powder to make these rise, or egg whites, or anything like that like the modern pancake. So, these are much more dense and substantial. These were meant to sustain people on long journeys, in fact another name for them is Journey Cakes, and that's where some believe the name came from.
Serving JohnnycakesSo, there it is - after 5 minutes per side we're going to have these beautiful golden brown johnnycakes. And then the best part. How we're going to serve these is kind of traditional - these would have been served with maple syrup, or honey, or fruit preserves - so we're going to do that, but we're also going to top it with the diced bacon. It was very common to cook these in bacon drippings if butter wasn't available. So, we're going to garnish with the bacon pieces and drizzle on some maple syrup.
Now, get the real stuff, don't use fake maple syrup for this! It's an insult to our early settlers. And there you go, that is the johnnycake recipe, also known as journey cakes. Some people think this comes from the Indian Shawnee cake, which was a similar recipe. Regardless, give this a try. It's fun to eat something that people were eating 300 years ago pretty much exactly the same. I hope you give it a try. Enjoy.
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