These Southern Hoe Cakes are small, round, and crispy fried cornmeal pancakes with a crunchy exterior that stay wonderfully soft and delicious inside.
What Are Hoe Cakes?
Hoe cakes (as they are called in A Real Southern Cook) are close kin to pancakes but from the south. You will often hear the term used in Southern kitchens all over Mississippi and Alabama. I like to think of this as just a fried cornbread recipe in pancake form.
- Self-Rising White Cornmeal: The heart and soul of our hoe cakes, bringing in that authentic Southern charm and a perfectly grainy texture.
- Self-Rising Flour: A little bit of fluff in the mix to provide airiness
- Sugar: Just a hint of sweetness to balance the savory
- Buttermilk: Traditionally used, but coconut milk works like a charm too!
- Large Egg: Binding the good stuff together
- Melted Fat or Oil: Whether it’s bacon grease for that smoky goodness, fried chicken grease for a soul food twist, classic butter, or vegetable oil, pick your potion and let’s get frying!
- Butter or Mixed Butter and Vegetable Oil for Frying: Because we want these cakes golden and crispy – it’s like giving them a little sunbath.
How to Make Hoe Cakes
- Mix Dry Ingredients: Grab a bowl and with a wooden spoon, stir together your dry ingredients.
- Add Buttermilk: Pour in the buttermilk slowly.
- Incorporate the Egg: Crack that egg in and give the yolk a little nudge with the edge of your spoon.
- Pour in Water and Fat/Oil: Add water and your choice of fat or oil, and stir well. You’re aiming for a thick soup texture, but be ready to add a splash more water if necessary.
- Preheat Your Skillet or Griddle: Whether it’s a cast-iron skillet or a flat iron griddle, make sure it’s well greased with your chosen fat – butter and oil combo is a winner!
- Fry Those Cakes: Use a 1/8 cup measure to drop the batter in, watching as they transform into golden circles of deliciousness.
- Watch for Bubbles and Flip: Once the edges start bubbling and the center sets, flip those cakes and fry until perfection is achieved.
- Drain if Needed: If they’re a bit on the greasy side, a paper towel will do the trick, absorbing excess oil.
- Serve Hot: Get them while they’re hot, and taste the Southern charm in every bite.
How to Store
To store your leftover hoe cakes, place them in an airtight container or wrap them securely in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, ensuring they are fully cooled first to maintain their texture. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for a longer shelf life of up to 2 months.
To reheat them, add to the oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 10 minutes if refrigerated, or longer if frozen, until they’re heated through and regain their crispy exterior. I don’t recommend the microwave since they won’t stay crisp.
More Breakfast Recipes to Try
Johnny Cakes or Hoe Cakes Recipe
- 1/2 cup self-rising white cornmeal
- 1/2 cup self-rising flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/3 cup buttermilk I used coconut milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup water or more as needed
- 2 tablespoons melted fat or oil bacon grease, fried chicken grease, butter, or vegetabile oil
- Butter or mixed butter and vegetable oil for frying
- In a bowl, mix together the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Add the buttermilk slowly. Mix in the egg, cutting into the yolk with the spoon’s edge to help it mix in better. Add the water and fat or oil and stir well. The texture should be like thick soup, so you may need to add more water.
- I like to fry the cornbread cakes in my grandmother’s cast-iron skillet or on a flat iron griddle, but any skillet or grillded will be fine. Heat the skillet or griddle over medium heat and grease it well with the fat of your choice (butter is delicious, but it tends to burn unless you mix it with a little oil). Once the skillet is hot and the fat is sizzling, drop the batter from a 1/8 cup (2-tablespoon) measure into the skillet, in batches if necessary. Fry the cakes until the edges are bubbling and the centers are set, then flip with a spatula to fry them on the other side until they’re done. Like with pancakes, you can’t say how long it will take, but the second side always cooks faster than the first. If the cakes seem greasy, drain them on paper towels before serving hot.