When I first saw the basic ingredients for hoecakes, a traditional Southern, corn-based pancake, I thought it had to be a mistake. There was no flour, no leavening ingredients, and no dairy. It was really just cornmeal with some salt and sugar.
I was pretty sure that the recipe was wrong and even if it wasn’t wrong, it would probably suck. How could that be good?
Oh how wrong I was. The end result is a very simple breakfast that is some sort of delicious cross between polenta and a pancake. To lighten it up a bit, I added some shredded apple to mine which I guess makes it fancy compared to the original!
1) Stir together cornmeal, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add boiling water, stir, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2) Shred apple and toss with lemon juice to prevent browning.
3) Add olive oil and apple to cornmeal mixture. It should be a thick batter, but if it is completely solid add another 1/2 cup of hot water to loosen it.
4) Add a small drizzle of oil to a griddle or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1/3 cup of batter to the pan and spread it out. Cook for about 4 minutes per side until it's cooked through and lightly charred on the edges. It's very hard to burn these.
5) Keep cooked hoecakes warm in a 200 degree F. oven or serve immediately with maple syrup and butter.
A Simple Batter
If you are intimidated by pancakes or crepes or waffles, then this is the batter for you. It’s easy to make and even easier to cook.
Just stir together the cornmeal, salt, and sugar and add the boiling water. Stir this together and let it sit for 10 minutes or so.
After the cornmeal is hydrated, it might turn solid. This is okay for the moment. You can always add more water to loosen it up.
I definitely needed some more water in mine!
Meanwhile, you can prep the one and only add-in for the batter. Just shred an apple. You can even leave the skin on.
To keep the apple from browning, toss the shreds with some fresh lemon juice.
After the batter has sat for 10 minutes, add more hot water to it until it’s thick, but pourable. Then stir in the olive oil and apple and it ready to go.
On the water, I would start with 2 cups like I specified in the recipe but you will almost certainly need more, probably an extra 1/3-1/2 cup.
Cooking the Cakes
Cooking these guys is pretty straightforward. Add a small drizzle of oil to a skillet or griddle over medium high heat. Once hot, add about 1/3 cup of batter to make a cake.
Spread out the batter with a spatula and let them cook for about four minutes per side.
Then give them a flip and they should be lightly charred. Cook for another four minutes on the second side and they should be done.
The nice thing about these cakes is they are very sturdy. It would be pretty hard to overcook them!
When the cakes are done you can either serve them immediately or keep the cooked ones warm in a 200 degree F. oven while you work on the others.
Just like pancakes, serve these guys with butter and syrup. Honey is also a good idea.
While these aren’t as popular as pancakes, I think they are easier for someone just learning how to cook.
They are also a gateway pancake to my favorite breakfast cake, the stuffed corn cake!
Also, congrats to me for making it through this entire post without making a “ho” joke.