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calling southern cooks: recipe for ho cake??

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.

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  1. 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

      so could be breakfast food? or anytime snack maybe.

      1. re: freeranger

        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. 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

        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

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

          1. re: Louise

            Thanks for waking my up with a good laugh!

          1. re: Non Cognomina

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

                2 Replies
                1. re: jillp

                  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

                    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.

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


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 originally made from corn meal and baked on a garden hoe or shovel over an open fire.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

                          1. 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. 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. 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. 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

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

                                    1. re: Buckskin2

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

                                      1. re: Funkalicious

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

                                  2. 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. 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. 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

                                          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

                                            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.