Cornbread was for many years the basic bread of the rural South, the very poor South. Corn bread and barbecue are close to being religion in the South. But for years, corn bread was the primitive Baptist to the Episcopalian biscuit, the all-night tent revival to the ladies’ prayer luncheon.
Cornmeal griddle cakes are the most basic of Southern breads. Biscuits require expensive dairy products, while cornmeal griddle cakes, also known as hoe cakes, can be made with little more than meal, a bit of oil, and water. The batter should be quite soupy but not watery. When the batter hits the hot oil, the edges sizzle and become very crisp. For best results, be sure to cook the cakes until the edges are deep, rich, golden brown. Meme always served them as a very quick bread on the side. They are especially delicious to sop up juices and gravy.–Virginia Willis
LC Still Swooning Note
Crisped exterior. Ethereally airy interior. Pleasantly gritty through and through. Can’t blame us for swooning over these griddle cakes from Meme, can you? Lest you mistake them for that other sort of griddle cake, the kind you stack five high on a plate in a puddle of melted butter and maple syrup, bear in mind that these savory somethings have no leavening and no sugar. As such, they’re best as a second fiddle to anything that needs a lovely little something to sop and mop up its juices, whether roast chicken, pulled pork, the burnt ends of brisket, or, well, you get the gist. Darn good thing they’re quick to make, as you may find yourself in need of a second batch.
Cornmeal Griddle Cakes
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 20 M
- Makes 8 to 12 cakes
- 2 cups white or yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup water, plus more if needed
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil, for frying
- 1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
- 2. In a second bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk the egg and 1 cup water until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using as few strokes as possible. The batter should be soupy but not watery.
- 3. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the heated skillet for each cake, being careful not to crowd the skillet. The batter should immediately sizzle at the edges.
- 4. Cook the cakes until the bottoms are a rich brown and bubbles form on the tops and along the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately, flipping those little babies onto a plate and passing them along while you fry up the remaining cakes, adding oil to the skillet as needed.