Johnny Cakes

It’s a snow day today. The last of the season probably. Hopefully. Maybe.

Spring is only a week away on the calendar, but so far March has been a little unkind. Today’s forecast was full of words like blizzard, snow, wintry mix, wind, and power outages, so everything around here got canceled and we got to sleep in and make a weekend breakfast on a Tuesday morning. If we’re lucky, the snow will change to rain and the power will stay on and it will just be a nice, cozy, stay-in-pajamas kind of day. If not? Well, winter will be over soon.

Breakfast today was Johnny Cakes. They’re so easy and delicious, and here in Rhode Island, they’re part of our local lore. We have an historic grist mill in South County called Kenyon’s. You can visit and watch them grind corn meal on their original 1886 granite millstones. Their corn meal is fantastic, and Kenyon’s white corn meal is used to make traditional Rhode Island Johnny Cakes. If you don’t have Kenyon’s on hand, not to worry. Use what you have. Bob’s Red Mill medium grind is another one of my favorites, and happens to be what I had on hand today. You can use one of the widely available commercial brands if you have to, but they’re not as good—they tend to be finely ground, which results in a mushier cake, and they aren’t as flavorful or healthy.



2 cups of medium grind corn meal
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cups boiling water
Approximately 1/2 cup Earth Balance
Maple syrup and berries for serving

Mix corn meal, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add boiling water a little at a time, stirring with each addition. Keep adding until the cornmeal mixture won’t absorb any more. It should be closer to a cake batter consistency, not thick like a cookie dough. Let it sit for approximately 10 minutes.

Preheat a griddle to medium high.

You can make the Johnny Cakes as big or small as you like. For each Johnny Cake, drop a pat of Earth Balance onto the griddle and pour a spoonful of Johnny Cake batter over the pat. The edges should start to sizzle. Cook first side for 5–10 minutes, adjusting heat up if they’re not browning, down if they’re browning too much. When the first side is finished, lift off griddle with a spatula, put down another pat of Earth Balance and place second side down so that it starts to sizzle again. Cook the second side for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned.

Serve hot with maple syrup and berries.


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