Cornmeal Hoecakes

READY IN: 50mins




  • Preheat the oven to 325°.
  • Add the cornmeal to a heatproof medium bowl, preferably one with a spout for pouring; stir in the salt.
  • Place the bowl in the oven for 5-8 minutes to warm the meal through and toast it lightly.
  • Remove it from the oven as soon as it begins to deepen in color.
  • Pour the boiling water into the warm cornmeal, about ½ cup at a time, being cautious of the hot bowl.
  • Stir vigorously, eliminating any lumps; then mix in the milk.
  • The batter will resemble a thick gruel; warm a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat.
  • Add just enough drippings to coat the surface with a thin film.
  • Spoon the batter by tablespoonfuls onto the griddle, leaving several inches between the dollops.
  • With the back of a spatula, squash the batter down into cakes about 3 inches in diameter (the batter should bubble merrily; if it splatters menacingly, the griddle is too hot; lower the heat before continuing).
  • Make as many cakes as you can fit without crowding.
  • Cook the cakes until the batter appears quite firm (3-4 minutes); these take a little longer than traditional wheat-flour pancakes).
  • Turn carefully and cook cakes on the other side until medium brown and crispy (about 3 minutes).
  • Repeat with the remaining batter, adding a bit more water to the batter if it thickens and more fat to the griddle if necessary.
  • The cakes are best right from the griddle but you can keep them warm in a low oven on baking sheets while you finish the entire batch; don’t stack the cakes until serving time.
  • Serve the hoecakes stacked on warm plates, topped with plenty of butter; pass the syrup separately to drizzle lightly over the cakes, if desired.