The johnnycake is the pancake’s hillbilly cousin. Had I known how good these little griddled cakes could be, I’d have made them a staple of the Pastry kitchen years ago. For while they closely resemble the regular pancake, taste-and-texture-wise they’re a whole different animal. A flat cornbread is really what they are, though a cornbread with a far greater depth of flavor, which comes by way of the sourdough starter.
As they have no leavening other than the starter plus a little whipped egg white boost, they’re denser and less sweet than conventional pancakes. Young Joan and I ate ours with syrup for lunch, but ultimately decided that these johnnycakes would be much more at home in a savory setting. A plated main course could be made of them by laying a couple out on a plate, topping them with a scoop of thick ham and beans. Crown the mound of beans with a little foof of micro-greens and you’ve got yourself a dining experience! Small ones would make a great appetizer served with some sour cream and chives.
But let’s get started.
Hey look! The Joe soundstage, it’s is still here! My thanks to the technical team who worked round the clock get it nailed together, lighted and operational under very trying circumstances. Drinks at the bar — when it opens again one day — are on me, crew!
Boy this ol’ thing sure brings back memories. There are the dinks from when I stabbed a bar of Ghiradelli too hard with a chocolate chunker. And there are knife scars from the day I used a little too much elbow grease cutting the bee sting cake. Oh it takes me back. Cue music…When I was seventeen…
But enough of that. There’s work to do and we’re burning daylight. I want to insert here that young miss Joan Pastry was involved in this shoot, and darn helpful she was too. She’s sheepish to show her hands, which are chapped from all the corona hand washing. Once the crisis passes you’ll no doubt see more of her. For now, start by assembling your ingredients. Combine the Corn meal, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.
Give those a stir…
Next the wet stuff. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low. Swirl just until the butter is melted.
Why such low heat? Because we’re going to add the egg yolk and we don’t want it to cook. Just plop it into the warm milk mixture…
And give it a whisk. Once that’s done, you’ll want to whisk this mixture into the starter until it’s smooth (evidently I neglect ed to take a picture of this step…shaking off some rust here…please be patient, it’s been a while).
Now pour the starter/milk mixture into the dry mixture and stir it together.
Set that aside and whip your egg white to stiff peaks in a small bowl. Here I was using a hand mixer, which was very convenient.
Fold the white into the batter, but don’t be too dainty about it. This is country cookin’ after all.
The batter should look about like so:
Ladle a generous 1/3 cup onto a hot, greased pan or skillet.
This one’s a little big, you should be able to get two at a time into a 10″ fry pan. Once bubbles start to form on top you’ll know the cake is ready to turn.
Just flip it over and cook another 30 seconds to corn cake perfection.
Eat them hot with fixins of your choice! The recipe makes about a dozen 4-inch cakes, which go fast. However if you’re just cooking for yourself or yourself and one other, know that these freeze beautifully. Thawed, you can give them a quick toast in a very hot skillet to get their delicate crispy crust back.