Johnny Cake

7 years ago

 **Please note: all food posts are from my previous blog The Flexitarian Kitchen. I've kept them here because... well, they're good recipes. And it's late. And I'm tired of adjusting my settings. Think of these recipes as the free prize in the bottom of the cereal box!

I have to confess something to you. *deep breath*  Here goes: 

I live in the South, and I hate cornbread.

There. I said it, and it can't ever be unsaid. And now the Dixie police are probably coming for me, so I'd better get this out quickly, while there's still time.

I'm originally a northern girl from the lovely Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. But I've lived in the South for twenty years and I have to be honest, they do food pretty well down here. The South is famous for its soul food: fried chicken and smothered pork chops and greens cooked with ham hocks; biscuits drowning in sausage gravy, barbeque, and chicken gumbo. Southerners do love their meat.  

But we're not here to talk about those things. We're here to talk about cornbread, which for some mysterious reason, southerners also love. When I first tried southern cornbread I thought someone had made a terrible mistake. It was dry, and crumbly and it stuck in my throat like sawdust. But then I tried it somewhere else, and somewhere else after that, and then I tried making it myself and... you know what? I still hate it.

Every recipe that promises "moist" cornbread seems to stay moist for about an hour and a half after it's done baking. And then? Sawdust. People crumble cornbread into their milk, too, which makes me just *shudder*. Sawdust soup. And cornbread is always, always worse the next day.

I think I'm spoiled. You see, we did not eat cornbread when I was growing up in the Northeast. We ate Johnny Cake. I don't know anyone else who has ever heard of Johnny Cake. Not in the north, and not in the south. I mean, people have their versions, but nothing I've ever heard of or tried even resembles the Johnny Cake I grew up on. When I try to describe it, southerners say "oh, you mean sweet cornbread?" *shudder again* And I say "no, no, no, bite your tongue!" It's true that Johnny cake contains cornmeal. And that it's sweet. But the texture is more like cake than bread, although it's also not a dessert. You eat it with soup or chili on a cold day like today. Or with a plate of fried okra and hush puppies on a sweltering day in July. Or by itself, straight from the pan, with a piece in each hand. It doesn't even need butter.

Now: The Recipe *genuflects*

My mother is going to kill me for this. I hope she won't see it. But I believe the world needs to know. If you had the cure for cancer, would you share it with the world? Of course you would. Well, I have the cure for southern cornbread, and it's time to do my humanitarian duty and share it with mankind.

This is a one-bowl recipe, and making it is probably the easiest thing you'll do today.

Just don't tell my mother.

Johnny Cake

In a medium sized bowl throw together these ingredients, in this order:

2 C sour milk What's that you say? You don't have any sour milk? Well honey, just add one and a half teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar to 2 C of room temperature milk, and now you do!

1 C sugar

1/2 C oil

1 C cornmeal

2 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Beat that together for just a couple of minutes, until the lumps are gone. Like pancakes or muffin mix you don't want to overmix this. It's a quick bread, which means... beat it quick and be done with it.

Greased 13x9" pan.

350 degrees, 25-35 minutes.

If you ever eat southern-style cornbread again, it won't be my fault.


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