Thursday, January 2, 2014

Oregon Trail Johnnycakes

Travelers on the Oregon Trail were sometime treated to Johnnycakes. Today we think of these tasty cakes as breakfast fare, but for weary travelers they were a treat, after a long day, topped with their favorite homemade jams and jellies, assuming they hadn’t eaten all the sweets the first few miles out of town. Today we more often top them with melted butter and syrup. I am not sure who Johnny was or why they named a cake (griddle cake) after him, but they taste as good today as they did back in Trail days.


1 beaten egg (some travelers took chickens along)
3/8 cup milk (and some brought along Ol’ Bessy, the milk cow)
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon melted lard (today we use vegetable oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I sometimes skimp this down to a
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (cornmeal and flour amounts can be switched
1 cup flour                      depending on how corny your taste)               

1 Tablespoon sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix really smooth. Drop by tablespoon onto hot greased griddle or skillet. Fry on each side until browned, only a minute or two. This recipe makes about a dozen 4 inch cakes.

These are fun, quite a bit different from a regular pancake (we added cornmeal and took out the baking powder) but the taste is special. The taste is kind of flat, with the first chew, then the taste of cornbread a few moments later. Very cool!


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