Johnnycake, a Simple Cornmeal Flatbread is Easy to Make

Johnnycake (also jonnycake, johnny cake, journey cake, shawnee cake and johnny bread) is a cornmeal flatbread that was widely used by the settlers in the early development of the east coast.  It was often used by hunters because of its limited ingredients and that it could be easily cooked with an open fire.

The original recipes were cornmeal, bacon grease or any other available fat, boiling water and a little salt.  This was mixed up and cooked on a piece of wood next to the fire or even in the ashes.  If you had a frying pan so much the better.

Over the years this recipe has evolved, a more modern recipe for johnnycake would be.

  • One cup stone ground white cornmeal
  • One teaspoon salt
  • One tablespoon butter
  • One tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Bacon drippings
  • One cup boiling water

Combine cornmeal, butter and sugar, boiling water and milk.  Mix into a thick batter.  Heat the bacon dripping in a frying pan and cook the batter in ½ inch thick slabs.  It should be golden brown on both sides.  You can also bake this if you do not have a frying pan or are using a solar oven.

Served with butter, honey or syrup it can be very tasty.  You can also mix dried fruits or raisins in with it if you have them.

This is an easy recipe to make either over a campfire or in your BOL.  Just remember that if you are counting on a heavily corn diet to beware of the dangers of pellagra, a vitamin deficiency disease.  See Treating Corn to Prevent Pellagra.


4 thoughts on “Johnnycake, a Simple Cornmeal Flatbread is Easy to Make”

  1. FWIW – One small note:

    The difference between JohnnyCake and REAL CornBread is simple: JohnnyCake has sugar; Genuine CornBread doesn’t.

    1. Paul-L, your comments about “real” cornbread not containing sugar is a faulty opinion only. Sugar was a luxury, most of us “hillbilly’s” couldn’t afford much. I learned from my mother, born to poverty in the hills of Tennessee, that they had little sugar and it was usually reserved for special occasions! Many impoverished rural southerners certainly were accustomed to eating cornbread without any sugar added. Many came to expect that, as they never had sugar to spare for the daily cornbread they relied on for nourishment! Let me assure you that good cooks even in the hills and hollows of the south added a little sugar to their cornbread when they were able to spare some for a special meal/company dinner! The amount of sugar added(if any) was according to the taste of the family and the prosperity! Usually only a tablespoon or two was added to the mix for a large cast iron skillet full. That is the most common accepted way of making cornbread now and it was then, when the cook had the sugar to “spare”. I enjoy cornbread with or without sugar according to what else is on the menu or my whims. Both ways are “real cornbread “

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