Greeting my beautiful lovelies! It’s Emmy! Welcome back to another episode of Hard Times. Today, I’m going to be making hoecakes in commemoration of Juneteenth which is tomorrow,
and it celebrates June 19th, 1865 and it commemorates the June 19th, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery. So today I’m gonna be making hoecakes which was a staple of an enslaved persons diet. So basically a hoecake is a type of bread, or unleavened bread, a pancake,
made out of corn, water, and fried in a little bit of fat. The recipe I’m gonna be using today comes out of this book — and it’s called The Gooking Gene, and it’s written by Michael Twitty. And it’s a memoir that uses food as a means to discover his own history and the history of his people. So as I was researching, I learned that Johnnycakes and hoecakes are actually quite similar. Kenyon’s stone ground Johnnycake white cornmeal — this can be found in this particular area, actually Rhode Island. This is the preferred brand of cornmeal to make Johnnycakes. And Johnnycakes and hoecakes are actually quite similar and the biggest difference is how they are prepared: this, too, just uses just cornmeal, some water, a little bit of sugar, and salt to make a batter to make cakes. But Johnny cakes were sometimes baked as opposed to hoecakes that were usually always fried So corn was introduced to Africa via the Portuguese. So enslaved peoples that came to the Americas, where corn is native, were probably familiar with the ingredients. So making something like hoecakes seems like a very logical thing to do. So in a bowl, we’re going to combine one cup of cornmeal…. This gristmill is actually still in operation in Rhode Island. So that’s pretty – that’s something be proud of. About one cup of cornmeal. And a half teaspoon of salt. So, if you didn’t have a griddle, another way to prepare hoecakes was to take the actual batter, form it, and then put it into the coals. Then, after it cooked, you would take off all the charred bits and eat what was left. Doesn’t sound so appetizing, does it? But it does cook the corn. And now I’m gonna add three quarters of a cup of boiling water — and add this gradually — And it’s starting to make a dough. This is a pretty thick batter…. It makes sense if you’re actually going to be making these into cakes and putting them into a fire, it would have to be substantial enough that they wouldn’t fall apart. We’re gonna let this rest for 10 minutes before we fry it. Now that he batter is rested, we’re gonna fry these up and I’m just using my cast iron griddle. I love this thing. I use it all the time. I’m gonna cook this on medium-high heat; and now I’m gonna use a little bit of lard and spread it on my griddle. Smokin’ hot! Two tablespoons of…. mix and press it down thinly. Then press it into a cake. Now that didn’t work out so well, but I think I can fix it. There we go! I think the trick is to plop the mix down, and then spread it out. Let’s try another one. There we go. And then spread it out. So the texture this actually reminds me a lot of masa which is a corn mixture used in a lot of Mexican cookery including things like tamales or tortilla. The variation comes in the amount of water and the type of fat that’s used, or how much fat. So you can start seeing that it’s getting a little bit translucent around the edges and a little bit golden. Very very different consistency than pancakes. There’s no leavening in this. There are no eggs. There’s no baking powder. Nothing to make this rise at all. Alright, let’s give this a flip. All right, that looks beautiful. Let’s flip this one. Lovely! So here are my hoecakes — all fried up and cooked up. Let’s give them a taste! So I’m going to taste them plain first. Itadakimasu! It’s pretty good. It’s pretty plain. But, the amount of salt in there is really nice. It tastes distinctly of corn. It reminds me a bit of a corn tortilla, but it’s got more of a thickness to it — more similar to like an arepa. Of course, there’s no cheese in there, but since we fry this in lard this has a really great flavor to it — kind of similar to the outside of a tamale — it has that corny, masa flavor to it. Mm-hmm. And the richness that comes from the lard. Pretty good, especially these crispy bits too. Mm-hmm. A very, very simple dish — and it tastes pretty good too. Now for a little bit of variety, let’s taste it with some honey. And this is honey for my own hives. If you haven’t seen my bee vlog videos on my other channel, I’ll put the link down below and up there as well, and you can check out my adventures in beekeeping. Super fun. This is from last fall’s honey harvest, so it has a nice amber color. The honey that I’m harvesting now in spring is much lighter in color. And that all depends on the type of nectar, of course, the bees are collecting from the flowers. All right, a good drizzle of honey. Now this will make it more of a dessert. I really like the crisp texture of the hoecakes. And that’s decadent. Delicious! Although both the flavor and texture are completely different than pancakes that we would typically have here for breakfast because there’s no leavening; there’s no milk; there’s no eggs; it has a corny flavor and the texture is a little bit more gritty but just the combination of flat bread with syrup makes me think of breakfast. Yum! Alrighty, so there you have it: hoecakes: a very simple recipe from the times of enslavement. Enjoy your Juneteenth; be appreciative for this day; It’s called freedom day for our lives; for all that we have; we have so much. And yeah, share this video with your friends; follow me on social media; and I shall see you in my next one. Shine bright! Toodle-oo! Take ca—bablaba! *whisper* Nobody’s watching. You can lick the spoon.