HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

calling southern cooks: recipe for ho cake??

freeranger Jan 19, 2007 09:51 PM

One story is told that ho cakes were a staple among the field workers in early American history. A cornmeal mush was made and fried over fire, upon their hoes. Please give your insight and recipes. Is there a more modern version of such a dish.. scrapple? fried grit cakes?

thanks for your help.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. LAcupcake RE: freeranger Jan 19, 2007 09:53 PM

    i've always thought of them as cornmeal pancakes (but more dense) since my grandma used to give them to me with maple syrup on them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: LAcupcake
      freeranger RE: LAcupcake Jan 19, 2007 10:19 PM

      so could be breakfast food? or anytime snack maybe.

      1. re: freeranger
        LAcupcake RE: freeranger Jan 19, 2007 10:28 PM

        It could totally be breakfast food (goes soooo well with bacon)! Sometimes she gave them to my grandpa to eat alongside his soup at lunch time but since I loved them with syrup I ate them for breakfasts at her house. A fun trip down memory lane... I haven't had hoe cakes since I was a kid!

    2. Non Cognomina RE: freeranger Jan 19, 2007 09:53 PM

      I think you mean "hoe cakes." We still make them, but more like a cornmeal based pancake batter cooked in butter and oil in a cast iron pan. Let me see if I can find a recipe...

      3 Replies
      1. re: Non Cognomina
        kittyfood RE: Non Cognomina Jan 19, 2007 10:30 PM

        I laughed when I saw "ho cakes" . . . I believe that according to legend these were originally set on a hoe that was placed in the fire, where they were baked, and thus the name. I don't think they were named after the oldest profession.

        1. re: Non Cognomina
          Louise RE: Non Cognomina Aug 15, 2007 08:57 AM

          I was wondering about the spelling myself. Especially when it's just above a post titled "Calling All Tarts".

          1. re: Louise
            coll RE: Louise Jan 5, 2014 04:07 AM

            Thanks for waking my up with a good laugh!

        2. Non Cognomina RE: freeranger Jan 19, 2007 09:57 PM

          Wouldn't you just know that Paula Deen has a recipe:


          1 Reply
          1. re: Non Cognomina
            Buckskin2 RE: Non Cognomina Dec 18, 2008 10:22 AM

            My folks called it "CORN DODGER" I don't know if my mother put any wheat flour in her's. She cooked them in bacon grease or lard. We ate them with KARO syrp or sorgum molassas

          2. k
            kmr RE: freeranger Jan 19, 2007 10:32 PM

            Goodness, they sound just like corn pone that my granny used to make...but we ate them with fried meat (usually fried baloney or spam). I think sometimes Dad and the uncles would mix oleo and 'lassy (molasses) and eat with them, too. You're right...fun trip down memory lane (sans the ticks and chiggers!)

            1. Candy RE: freeranger Jan 19, 2007 10:33 PM

              Hoe Cakes, boy you had me wondering... They are a stiff corn meal batter that could be baked on the blade of a hoe and can also be fried. The batter is stiff enough to shape by hand.

              Mix a cup of stone or water ground corn meal with 1 Tbs. softened lard, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 Tsp. baking powder, 1/2 C. milk and enough water to make a batter you can shape by hand. Bake or fry until golden

              1. jillp RE: freeranger Jan 20, 2007 12:09 AM

                I, too, snorted when I saw "ho cakes." Really presented quite a mental picture!

                2 Replies
                1. re: jillp
                  freeranger RE: jillp Jan 20, 2007 01:11 AM

                  Pardon my naivety on the spelling. the source of my curiosity about hoe cakes came from a song titled, "Ho Cake" which professes a great bit of passion for grandma's hoe cakes which are "so blang good I can' wait to fill my plate.." The song is a spot on blend of soul music and soul food.

                  great feedback from everyone here. glad the memories were conjured up.

                  1. re: freeranger
                    Candy RE: freeranger Jan 20, 2007 02:21 AM

                    I don't think we are laughing at you, just the spelling took many of us aback. My DH suggested that ho-cake might be a Sandra Lee semi-ho-cake contribution since she is so semi-ho. Her food and the name suggesting something what it did was just too hilarious.

                2. pikawicca RE: freeranger Jan 20, 2007 12:32 AM

                  Ho, ho, ho!

                  1. t
                    topaz49 RE: freeranger Aug 14, 2007 05:06 PM

                    "Hoe Cake Cornbread" has been around in the South since long before the slang word for a loose woman. My mother made it, and her mother, and I make it once in a while. It is corn meal mixed with either water or milk and a little salt til it resembles the consistency of pancake batter, maybe a little thinner. Then you fry it in bacon grease in an iron skillet (small amount of grease) on both sides until it is crispy outside and lightly golden colored. Serve it with meat of your choice, and usually something like steamed cabbage or turnip greens or collard greens or mustard greens. And of course, the meal would not be complete without mashed potatoes and sweet tea. My meat of choice for this meal would probably be a fried pork chop. P.S. It's made in individual serving sizes like pancakes.

                    1. j
                      jsaimd RE: freeranger Aug 15, 2007 10:02 AM

                      I don't know about authenticity - I am a Californian, but here is a williams sonoma recipe:


                      1. d
                        Dave Armstrong RE: freeranger Oct 12, 2007 01:00 PM

                        topaz49 has the traditional meal just as we eat it here in Atlanta, GA at restaurants like Son's Place. I prefer them crispy on the outside and more thin than thick. Easy to do with thin batter. They should be about 3 inches across and two or three on the side of a Meat and Three lunch is perfection. I like fried chicken, greens, mashed potatoes and beans with sweet tea. Mmmm...

                        1. c
                          cjcookie RE: freeranger Oct 12, 2007 07:35 PM

                          originally made from corn meal and baked on a garden hoe or shovel over an open fire. Paula Deen has a good recipe!

                          1. b
                            Buckskin2 RE: freeranger Dec 18, 2008 10:28 AM

                            We get mush it plastic tubes and fry it. It still doesn't taste like the "corn Dodger" My mother made when I was a kid. It could be for breakfast or dinner. Dinner was what yankees call lunch. For supper we would often have biscuits and gravy.

                            1. apple342 RE: freeranger Dec 18, 2008 10:56 AM

                              Great thread. Christy Jordan, fellow Alabamian, has a terrific recipe for Hoe Cake on her blog (which is fantastic for us southerners living in the NE) !


                              1. roxlet RE: freeranger Dec 18, 2008 10:59 AM

                                My husband has taken to making these lately as an alternative to bread with some soups or stews. They are particularly good buttered, and he says that his midwestern farm girl grandmother used to make them for him when he was little. I believe it is an extremely simple recipe of cornmeal, a little salt, and boiling water. I think that the boing water is key, but I will ask him tonight.

                                1. f
                                  Funkalicious RE: freeranger Jan 4, 2014 04:31 PM

                                  The Paul Dean's recipe looks likes my grandma. My 101 yr old grandma used the grease from the coffee can that was on top of the stove. Whatever was in that can, I'll never duplicate that grease. So these hoe cake will be just probably be a memory.


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Funkalicious
                                    Buckskin2 RE: Funkalicious Jan 4, 2014 06:37 PM

                                    Bacon grease! That was in my Mom's.She would have been 113 last December 2.

                                    1. re: Buckskin2
                                      Funkalicious RE: Buckskin2 Jan 5, 2014 11:32 PM

                                      Interesting how they eat all that bacon greassssse and lived so long

                                      1. re: Funkalicious
                                        coll RE: Funkalicious Jan 6, 2014 06:05 AM

                                        The latest is that bacon fat is healthier than most shortenings.

                                  2. q
                                    Querencia RE: freeranger Jan 4, 2014 08:45 PM

                                    Surely there must be an e on that word, as in "hoe" cake eg once upon a time the cornmeal batter was cooked before a fire on a hoe. Otherwise, you are talking about a lady of the night, eg She a ho what work at the ho house.

                                    1. m
                                      mscoffee1 RE: freeranger Jan 5, 2014 03:40 AM

                                      Not a southern cook but ...

                                      That sounds like a Johnny Cake? Northern originally and maybe the southern version is different. On the Philadelphia board someone asked (years ago) about Johnny cakes and I sent the to Kenyon Grist Mills website (Rhode Island). I have made them (inside on a cast iron pan). I love most things with corn meal.

                                      1. d
                                        Dave Armstrong RE: freeranger Jan 5, 2014 03:56 AM

                                        It is definitely known as a Johnny Cake. We have them every year for New Years as the Good Luck Meal. It's how you do your cornbread with your black eyed peas and cabbage. Cornbread for gold, black eyed peas for coins, and cabbage for folding money. Here in the South we have smoked ribs as the meat at that meal. It's a family tradition.

                                        The thinner the Hoe Cake or Johnny Cake the better. About dollar sized pancake. We used to have them as a side at Deacon Burton's until he passed away and the restaurant closed. Best fried chicken in Atlanta it was ...

                                        My wife puts in a little white pepper for zing and a dash of cream for richness and then just water. If we had bacon fat drippings in a can there would be the final touch. Wow, who does that anymore. But traditionally they are best when almost paper thin. You have to keep adding water as the batter rises between batches. And the second batch is usually the best. We use Aunt Jemima Corn Meal Mix (yes, there really was an Aunt Jemima) but it will rise. Straight corn meal is the best way to go if you can find it.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Dave Armstrong
                                          hazelhurst RE: Dave Armstrong Jan 5, 2014 04:26 AM

                                          I've never thought about this as needing a recipe, anymore than frying an egg requires it. Just something that was "done." But you are right..the lard and adding water are essential to keeping them moist and not burining...too much. (I like things a bit :Chaque" as S. Louiisiana says..if not spells.)

                                          1. re: Dave Armstrong
                                            mscoffee1 RE: Dave Armstrong Jan 5, 2014 04:51 AM

                                            I saw these blue corn Johnny Cakes from Anson Mills and they sure look good.

                                            However, I have made the white ones from Kenyon Grist Mills. No leavening, but I also love corn meal pancakes.

                                          Show Hidden Posts