Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Johnny Cakes Recipe

This post is brought to you by Janalyn Voigt.
One staple of the American frontier came to early settlers by way of Native Americans. Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in 1620 lost most of the wheat they’ carried with them to spoilage. The Pawtuxet Indians prevented their starvation by teaching them how to grow and pound corn into meal from which they made cakes.
Pioneer Kitchen Image from an old catalog ca. 1873
by Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
No one is exactly sure how johnny cakes came to be named. Several theories exist. Some believe that the name represents a slurring of “Shawnee cakes”  (another name for johnny cakes). Others say that the Indian term for “corn cake”, “janiken,” gave rise to the name. johnny cakes also were known as “journey cakes” for their portability. Other names for cornmeal flatbread include johnnycakes, ashcake, battercake, cornpone, corn cake, hoe cake, hoecake, mush bread, pone, jonakin, and jonikin.
Many variations exist, but the simplest johnny cakes recipe includes only cornmeal, boiling water, and salt. I use yellow cornmeal since I like the taste best, however a traditional johnny cakes recipe often call for white cornmeal. Keep the batter fairly thin. This ensures that your johnny cakes won’t be doughy in the middle. You only want them about 1/4-inch  thick. They can be baked in a greased pan or fried. Frying in bacon grease follows a long tradition, but butter works as well. Enjoy them drizzled with maple syrup.

Johnny Cake Recipe

Image by Douglas Perkins (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Bacon grease or butter
  • Maple Syrup


  1. Place cornmeal in a mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup with a spout for pouring.
  2. Stir salt into cornmeal.
  3. Add boiling water and mix.
  4. Add 1/2 cup milk and mix just until blended.
  5. Heat bacon grease or butter in a skillet or iron frying pan.
  6. Pour batter into skillet to make a 4-inch cake.
  7. Let cook until brown around the edges.
  8. Loosen the cake with a spatula and flip.
  9. Cake the other side until brown.
  10. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

About Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and whimsy creates breathtaking fictional worlds for readers.

Look for her upcoming western historical fiction releases in the Montana Gold series.

This multi-faceted author also writes in the romantic mystery genre. Deceptive Tide (Islands of Intrigue: San Juans) releases this month.

Beginning with DawnSinger, Janalyn's epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries readers into a land only imagined in dreams.

Learn more about Janalyn Voigt and her writing at

Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary Agency. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA. When she's not writing, she loves to discover worlds of adventure in the great outdoors with her family.


  1. Thanks for the interesting story behind a legendary American food!

  2. I enjoyed learning about one of my favorite treats. Here in my area of Kentucky we call it fried cornbread but it is one and the same!

  3. Frying it in bacon grease sounds yummy. Thanks for sharing.