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Johnny Cake Recipe

With just a few ingredients, Ma prepared johnny cakes for her family.   Made mostly from cornmeal, johnny cakes are prepared on hot griddle like a pancake.  Johnny cakes can accompany any meal with just a bit of butter; some serve them for breakfast with maple syrup.  Ma would use pork cracklings to flavor johnny cakes in Little House in the Big Woods.  I wanted to learn more about johnny cakes, especially since our family enjoys corn bread.
Johnny-Cakes Recipe

Traditional johnny cakes are made with cornmeal, boiling water, and a bit of salt and sugar.  The batter is poured on a hot, greased griddle.  Once the edges are browned, the johnny cake is turned over to cook the other side.  I found this site and recipe to be the most helpful to learn more.

Johnny Cake Recipe

1 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup boiling water
oil or shortening

1. Mix corn meal, sugar, and salt together.
2. Slowly add the boiling water to the cornmeal mix.  Do not over mix.
3. Place one large spoonful of batter on a well-greased/oiled griddle.  
4. When edges turn brown, wait about 30 seconds and then flip the johnny cake over with a spatula.
5. Press down to flatten the center of the johnny cake.  The second side does not take as long to cook.
6. Serve warm with butter.

Please Note
~ Use a griddle, cast iron, or non-stick frying pan.  Do not use aluminum or the johnny cakes will stick.
~ I used about 3 tablespoons of oil in my non-stick frying pan to begin.  After a few johnny cakes, more oil was needed.
~ Serve with a hearty stew or sweeten them with maple syrup.

My family enjoyed this johnny cake recipe with taco soup (beans, ground meat, tomatoes, and corn).  The johnny cakes were crisp enough to even to scoop the soup.  Consider this traditional cornbread recipe if you prefer something more familiar.

This recipe and many more are included in my book. Learn more about the world of Little House in The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter GuideIt's full of rich history, deep discussion, and 75 activities so you can live like Laura.

~ Annette Whipple

Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at