Johnnycakes were once called journey cakes, sustenance to be stored in saddlebags and eaten by travelers. The trick to making johnnycakes is patience. You must wait until the lacey pancake is nearly dry in the pan on one side so it will lift away from the pan to be turned. They are heavy on the corn and spare, but you can use warmed milk and an egg to enrich them if you prefer. The basic recipe is vegan and gluten-free, and they’re delicious drizzled with real maple syrup. If you use white cornmeal still milled from Rhode Island flint corn, serve them with linguica, the Portuguese-style sausage that is the pride of the Portuguese community, which is still visible in Rhode Island.
Yield: 12 small johnnycakes
- 1 2/3 cup water
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup cornmeal, preferably stoneground, flint corn
- 2 tsp. oil or melted bacon fat or butter
Boil 1 cup water and pour it over cornmeal, whisking until smooth. Add remaining water to loosen batter. Let rest 30 minutes to overnight. Whisk melted butter or fat into batter. Ladle batter onto nonstick skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. (Small circles are easier to manage.) Wait until top is dry and edges begin to lift or curl. Use thin spatula to carefully turn them, cooking a few more minutes until golden.