Easy Cornmeal Pancakes (aka Johnny Cakes)

Change your breakfast weary ideas of what pancakes can be and create these whole-grain cornmeal pancakes for your family!

Pancakes are a staple breakfast food at our house. My youngest one loves them, and I love how I can beef them up with ground flax seed and yogurt and all sorts of additions to make an otherwise carb-loaded white grain food healthier.

Imagine what you can do by switching up the grain you use, and how much healthier you can make it when you grind that grain at home! You can have fresh, whole-grain goodness (that is gluten-free if your family needs it) and change every routine meal into something more flavorful.

Cornmeal pancakes, otherwise known as Johnny cakes, are thought to be original to the Native American people and most likely passed on to early settlers of North America. Maize was the primary corn available at the time and could be ground for all sorts of applications. What made this a great dish for early settlers is that dried corn is light, easy to store, and lasts a long time. This dish, along with bacon fat or other fats readily available at the time, didn’t require ingredients that needed refrigeration or fancy cooking methods. You mixed the cornmeal with water, salt and sugar if you had it, fried it on a skillet with bacon fat, and you had a quick and easy meal that required little to create.

We’ll add a few little twists for modern day, but here is our family’s version of Johnny Cakes!

Change your breakfast weary ideas of what pancakes can be and create these whole-grain cornmeal pancakes for your family!

First, the grinding of the POPCORN! I said it. We’re not just using dent corn we got from the feed store. We’re using something that is probably in all of our pantries, so pull out that bottle of Orville’s popcorn that you put away in hopes of making real popcorn for movie night instead of that stuff in a bag. This is worth it!

Change your breakfast weary ideas of what pancakes can be and create these whole-grain cornmeal pancakes for your family!

Turn on your grain mill, set to course grind, then pour in 2 cup of popcorn.

Change your breakfast weary ideas of what pancakes can be and create these whole-grain cornmeal pancakes for your family!

Change your breakfast weary ideas of what pancakes can be and create these whole-grain cornmeal pancakes for your family!

Ingredients

2 C ground cornmeal

1 tsp salt

1 TB sugar

4 TB butter, softened

1 C of Milk

4 TB boiling hot water

More butter ;)

Directions:

1. Cream the dry ingredients with the softened butter.

2. Add your milk and mix thoroughly. You may find it a little lumpy, but that’s okay.

3. Begin to add the hot water. The hot water will help break down the cornmeal and give your batter a smoother consistency. But don’t add it all at once. You want a batter that is the consistency of thinned mashed potatoes. Not runny, but not something that sticks to your spoon and you have to shake it off. (If you do happen to make it too runny, you can always add in a bit more corn meal to thicken it up. I always make extra and store it in zip top bags in my freezer.)

momwithaprep-johnnycakes11

Here’s a hint that I learned from Alton Brown. Walk away from your batter and let it rest for awhile. Your cornmeal (and flour) absorbs the liquids better, and has a chance to create all that chemical bonding and reactions that make batters fun. You can also add a bit more liquid at this point if your batter becomes too firm after a brief rest.

4. Drop large spoonfuls onto a well buttered, hot griddle surface. Cast iron is preferred for that authentic taste, but a moder griddle or skillet will do if that’s all you have. If you have bacon fat, use it! It will make this even scrummier! If you prefer coconut oil, that will work as well. But please do use an oil with a high smoking point. Vegetable oil will not work in this application well. You want a hot pan.

Change your breakfast weary ideas of what pancakes can be and create these whole-grain cornmeal pancakes for your family!

5. Cook until the shine is off the top of the pancake. Test to see if you can flip easily. It will not be as firm as a pancake when you turn, so turn carefully. Your total cooking time is 4-6 minutes on both sides. You want a golden, crisp surface on both sides.

Serve with maple syrup, honey or even applesauce, along with other breakfast favorites, for a uniquely different take on morning breakfast! Or, serve with honey for dessert!

A note: You can use field/dent corn to make cornmeal as well as dehydrated sweet corn (learn how to here). The sweet corn lends itself to a more fragrant cornmeal that is quite a bit sweater and starchier than using popcorn, but it does work in many applications, especially if you like a sweeter cornbread.

About Jane@MomwithaPREP

Jane is a follower of Christ, homeschooling mom and blogger, who, along with her husband and children, is looking to become more self-reliant, skilled and PREPared for the unique circumstances life throws at them everyday. Just don't notice the chocolate on her keyboard or the large pile of laundry (mostly clean) at the foot of her bed because she's busy learning how to cook over open fires and messing about in the garden!

You can find Jane telling her story of her family's PREParedness journey at MomwithaPREP.com where you can learn more about self-reliance, homesteading in a suburban backyard, and being prepared for life's little and big emergencies. You can follower her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram

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Spanish Churros

One of the more popular Spanish recipes, churros are pretty well known internationally.  Here they are typically served alongside a thick sort of hot, thick chocolate for breakfast, or as an early morning snack after being out at the discotecas all night, before going to bed at sunrise.

I may or may not have done that once or twice.  ;)

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Apart from that, they can usually be found at fairs, holiday celebrations, and flea markets in a mobile churrería reminiscent of a cotton candy or elephant ear stand back in the US.

Spanish churros are a bit different than their Latin American counterparts.
Rather than being sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, the distinct flavor of these churros comes from being fried in olive oil.

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Olive oil is one of the most popular oils used in Spain.  Olive trees are abundant here, and I actually happen to have one in my backyard.
If you prefer not to fry these churros in olive oil, you can still make them, but they won’t have that authentic flavor.

When I received my grain mill, I was very excited to try it out.  I had some wheat berries on hand just waiting for me to grind into flour for making churros.

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The mill didn’t disappoint.  I was amazed by how quickly and easily I was able to make myself a perfectly ground flour for my recipes.

I used the pastry setting for this recipe.

Spanish Churros
 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups flour - freshly ground using the pastry setting
  • 1⅓ cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • extra virgin olive oil for frying
  • granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix the water with the butter and salt over medium to high heat on your stove, and remove it from the heat source when it begins to boil.
  2. Mix in your flour until completely incorporated into the water mixture.
  3. Add the egg, and mix well until all of the ingredients are completely combined. You will end up with a very thick batter.
  4. Load your batter into either a heavy duty piping/frosting bag or a cookie press, which is what I use. The batter is quite thick, so it is easier to work with an electric cookie press. I used a large star shaped disk template for mine. If you are using a piping bag, you should use the biggest tip that you have available. A star shaped tip will make your churros look more authentic.
    There are also special churro dispensers available, but they aren't necessary.
  5. Heat your olive oil in a pan over medium heat. You'll want to use enough oil for the churros to be able to float in the pan without touching the bottom.
  6. When warmed, you can begin to pipe out the batter into churros the length that you desire into the hot oil. Cut the lengths of batter with a knife.
  7. Cook until the churros are golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oil, and immediately sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  9. Continue with the process until you have finished using up all of your dough.

Serve them with some homemade chocolate if you like. I just happen to have a recipe on my blog that you can use.  If you are have are avoiding gluten and/or wheat, I also have a grain free churros recipe for you!

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Enjoy!

About Tracy Ariza

Tracy is an American expat who currently lives in Spain with her fisherman husband, a toddler, 2 dogs, and 4 hens. She blogs at Oh, The Things We'll Make! (http://thethingswellmake.com) where she shares real food recipes, crafts, and other DIY projects including how to make everything from pantry staples to household items like soap. She also likes making healthy food fun, and especially loves sharing holiday recipes and projects. When she isn't blogging, she's probably crafting, baking or hiking on the mountain with her dogs.

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