The term Johnny Cake means different things in different places. On the east coast of the US, it refers to a fried cornmeal flatbread or pancake. The same dish known in the southern states as a Hoe Cake. Here—at least in our family—Johnny Cake refers to a baked quick bread, slightly sweetened with sugar and leavened with baking powder. Other than the fact they’re both made from corn, I have no idea at all how (or even if) the two dishes are related.
What I do know about the Johnny Cake that I bake is that, when it’s served hot from the oven topped with stewed fruit (as shown here, with rhubarb) or golden syrup, it makes a delicious breakfast. If the batter is divided and baked as individual muffins, they’re great for dipping in chilies, soups, or stews.
To make Johnny Cake, you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup flour (Use whole wheat flour if you want to. I often do.)
- 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Mix together the cornmeal and milk. Beat the egg and stir it in, together with the sugar and the canola oil.
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add them to the cornmeal mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined.
Pour the batter into a greased 9 x 9 inch cake pan and bake it at 350ºF for 25 to 30 minutes.
Cut the cake into serving portions as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Serve it piping hot, topped with warm stewed fruit or applesauce, or with butter and syrup.