Johnnycakes come in many shapes and sizes. I’ve seen thick skillet versions, oblong slab versions, and flat, pancake-style versions. I surveyed them all when putting together this recipe, and settled on the pancake. First because I think it’s probably the original form of the johnnycake, but also because the thicker versions require chemical leavening to give them height and lightness.
I’m dispensing with the chemical leavening because I want to keep the formula as streamlined as possible for those who may not have access to chemical leaveners at the moment. However because I do want as many bubbles as I can get, and because — despite the pandemic — we still live in the modern era, I’m going to add some egg white foam as a lightener. I believe the results will be quite satisfactory. But I guess we’ll see!
4.5 ounces (1 cup) cornmeal
1 ounces (2 tablespoons) sugar
1 tsp. salt
6 ounces (3/4 cup) milk, room temperature
1 egg yolk, beaten lightly
1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) melted butter
8 ounces (1 cup) bread starter, well fed and bubbly
1 egg white, whipped to stiff peaks
In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, sugar and salt. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, then add the milk. Warm the mixture slightly, until the milk no longer feels cold to the touch, then take it off the heat and whisk in the yolk. With a hand mixer or a whisk, whip the white to stiff peaks.
Assemble the batter by stirring the milk mixture into the starter. Pour the milk-starter mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir to combine. Add more milk if the mixture seems too thick. Lastly, stir in the whipped egg white.
Heat a cast iron skillet, or other flat pan, over medium-high heat. Lubricate the pan with a little butter or cooking spray and griddle the cakes until brown on both sides. Serve with sweet or savory condiment of your choice!