A hoecake is a minimalist form of corn bread. It is a thin, unleavened round made from just cornmeal, water, and salt. It should be crisp at the edges, and dense but creamy on the inside. A hoecake should be sturdy enough to work as a shovel for whatever is on the plate, but delicate enough to be appealing on its own.
The names comes from the fact that hoe was a colloquial term for griddle in the 1600s in parts of England. Hoecakes were often cooked on griddles.
Be sure and use boiling water when mixing your hoecakes, this helps them to stay firm and brings out the flavor of the corn. Don’t add too much water; hoecake batter should be stiffer than pancake batter.
- Makes two 6 inch cakes:
- Cup fine-ground white or yellow cornmeal
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon peanut oil, lard or other fat.
- Bring a teakettle of water to a boil. Put the cornmeal and salt in a large bowl, and mix in approximately a cup and a quarter of the boiling water. Let sit about 10 minutes.
- The mixture should just be pourable, you will need to use a spoon or spatula to help spread it out once it’s in the pan. If it seems too thick, add a little more hot water.
- Grease the skillet or griddle. When it’s hot, pour in about half of the cornmeal mixture, use back of a spoon to spread it into a cake about 6 inches in diameter. Cook until the hoecake is golden around the edges and seems firm, this should take about 10 minutes. Flip it over and cook on the other side until done. Do not overcook it. Serve it warm or cold depending on your taste.
Hoecakes are a very basic food that can be used in many different ways, from a substitute for bread to a dessert. Served with main dish it is bread. Covered with a bit of honey and fresh fruit it is a desert. It is very similar to a johnny cake and corn pone.
Depending on how much corn you are eating you many need to learn about pellagra a vitamin deficiency that affects people who use corn to heavily in their diets. The Native Americans developed ways to avoid this condition. See the following posts for more information.
Another nice thing about this recipe is that that you can cook hoecakes almost anywhere, even using flat rocks over an open fire if necessary.