Hoe Cakes

  • 2 cups corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • oil for frying

Put the tea kettle on to boil. In a large bowl combine the corn meal and salt. When the water boils, measure it in a metal or tempered-glass measuring cup. Pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and stir it up. The cornmeal will swell up, absorbing the water, and making a very thick mash.

Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. You can use as little as two tablespoon of oil per panful, but it is a little easier to use 4 or 5 tablespoons of oil for each panful. Use your waistline and frying skill as the final judge. Now scoop up a little of the cornmeal mush (about 1/4-cup) and shape it into a patty. It will still be warm from the boiling water, so be careful not to burn yourself. You can let it cool down some more first if you like. Plop the patty into the hot fat, and get it to frying. Make some more, until you have a whole pan full. I usually cook about 4 or 5 at a time. When the underside is crispy brown, turn them and cook the other side. When both sides are crispy and brown, transfer them to a plate to keep warm, and start another batch. This recipe makes about 12 hoe cakes.

Originally, Native Americans cooked these on hot rocks in an open fire. They were commonly referred to as Ash Cakes. Later on, settlers from Europe adopted the recipe, cooking the cakes on the blades of their hoes in the fireplace. This is where they get the name, “Hoe Cakes”. Of all the recipes in my collection, this one is the oldest, the cheapest, and just about the tastiest of all. Serve Hoe Cakes with as a bread, or by themselves for breakfast with maple syrup or molasses. They also make a nice accompaniment to main meals, especially when fried in margarine. In the summertime, when you want a hot bread, but don’t want to heat up the oven, this is the best choice. They cook right on top of the stove, without heating up the entire house. Good for camping and back packing too.

Another favorite southern bread recipe are biscuits. My biscuit mix made from white flour makes it easy to bake up a batch of them for breakfast or dinner.

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Katelyn - September 28, 2009

These make a great breakfast food with just a little bit of tweaking to the recipe. I like to mix them up like usual, pat into little patties, then bake at 350 F until the top is cracked, and maybe a little brown (depends on how you like them). I mix ’em up the night before, and leave them on the counter (covered of course, we have three cats) then throw them in the toaster oven before getting dressed and going about my morning routine. I spread a little butter and jam over them, but you can serve them with syrup, honey and fruit, just about anythin’, your imagination is the limit…

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kendra - November 14, 2009

My grandmother used to make these when I was little and they are delicious, she also used to make something that she called fritters, out of flour, but I don’t remember how to make them. If anyone knows please let me know.

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    TheF150Girl - December 26, 2010

    We have a family tradition of fritters for breakfast. Over the years I’ve learned that “fritter” can be a pretty generic term and is many things to many people. Our fritters are simply fried bread dough. We take plain old bread dough, roll it flat with a rolling pin and cut out shapes (round, square, half hazzard, makes no difference) and fry them up in a pan or electric skillet in oil. Serve with your favorite breakfast toppings (butter, syrup, peanut butter {my fav}, powdered sugar,jam, fruit whatever and your favorite breakfast meat! Hope that helps.

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dott - June 2, 2010

These will serve for a nice, inexpensive and filling dinner as well,
served with some lentils and a hearty, chunky vegetable pasta sauce.

Lentils (especially red ‘french’ lentils) are an excellent source of
protein and fiber.

Sprinkle a little bit of italian herbs and cheeses over the top if
you like. Hungry yet? 😉

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Maggie - June 3, 2010

My mom used to make Hoe Cake but it was a little different. She made it with flour and put the dough in a skillet which she baked in the oven. I don’t think she put much other than water and a little bacon grease in with the flour but I can’t remember how she did it. We loved it; it was filling and since we were pretty poor, it was a nice treat. With a little butter and jam, a great meal filler.
If anyone has the recipe or has heard of this version of hoe cake, I’d like to hear about it.
Maggie

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    Lisa - August 25, 2010

    My mom made hoe cakes like that too. It was like a giant biscuit. Did you ever get the recipe for this? If so, will you please share?

    Reply
      Venice - October 18, 2010

      Hi Lisa,
      Don’t know if you’ve received any recipe replys yet, but here’s the one both my grandmama’s and my mama used…hope you like it!

      Down Home Southern Hoe-Cake Preheat oven to 425 degrees ~
      Pour your oil or bacon grease into the cast-iron skillet and place in a hot oven before you start mixing up the dough ~ the oil needs to be hot ~ so that when you pour in the dough ~ it starts cooking asap…

      Now…

      2 cups Self-Rising Flour ~ I use Self-Rising White Lily
      1 cup Buttermilk
      1/2 cup Vegetable Shortening and/or sub a little bacon grease for some of the veggie shortening…
      Or you can brush the top of the Hoe-Cake with a little Bacon Grease before you bake it…

      Spread a thin layer of oil or bacon grease to cover the bottom of an cast iron skillet or an eight inch round cake pan and place in oven to heat ~
      Cut shortening/bacon grease into flour; blend well ~
      Pour Buttermilk in and stir until wet and well blended ~
      Pour into well oiled and hot pan and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes or until browned ~
      Turn out into a plate ~

      Hope this is the one your looking for…

      Reply
    Venice - October 18, 2010

    Hi Maggie,
    Don’t know if you’ve received any recipe replys yet, but here’s the one both my grandmama’s and my mama used…hope you like it!

    Down Home Southern Hoe-Cake Preheat oven to 425 degrees ~
    Pour your oil or bacon grease into the cast-iron skillet and place in a hot oven before you start mixing up the dough ~ the oil needs to be hot ~ so that when you pour in the dough ~ it starts cooking asap…

    Now…

    2 cups Self-Rising Flour ~ I use Self-Rising White Lily
    1 cup Buttermilk
    1/2 cup Vegetable Shortening and/or sub a little bacon grease for some of the veggie shortening…
    Or you can brush the top of the Hoe-Cake with a little Bacon Grease before you bake it…

    Spread a thin layer of oil or bacon grease to cover the bottom of an cast iron skillet or an eight inch round cake pan and place in oven to heat ~
    Cut shortening/bacon grease into flour; blend well ~
    Pour Buttermilk in and stir until wet and well blended ~
    Pour into well oiled and hot pan and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes or until browned ~
    Turn out into a plate ~

    Hope this is the one your looking for…

    Reply
    Brenda - January 5, 2011

    Maggie, I found this recipe for Hoe Cake that I think is what you are looking for. It is called Southern Hoe Cake. Use 2 cups of self-rising flour, 1/2 cup shortening, 1 cup milk (or equivalent in powdered milk and water) Preheat oven to 425. Pour a thin layer of oil into a 8 or 9 inch cake pan (or cast iron skillet) Place pan into preheating oven so oil will be hot when you’re ready to pour in the batter. Measure flour into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry cutter or fork until it’s the consistency of crumbs. Stir in milk. It should be a nice wet bisuit-like batter. If it’s too dry, add up to 1/4 cup more milk. Remove pan from oven and pour batter in. Batter should sizzle because the oil is nice and hot. Spread the batter in evenly, and return to the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 min, until the top is turning golden brown. Remove from oven. Invret hoe cake onto a plate and serve. If you dont have self-rising flour, use 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt for every cup of flour. Just measure the baking powder and the salt in the bottom of the measuring cup, and spoon flour over it until you get one cup. Enjoy.

    Reply
shannon adams - July 5, 2010

Do you all use white corn meal or yellow please let me know

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    Colleen - September 10, 2010

    I use yellow for just about everything. It makes pretty good hoe cakes as well!

    Reply
Rita - August 26, 2010

I grew up eating hoe cakes made by my grandmother. The recipe is the same as simple bisquits. Use flour, buttermilk (if you have it) or even water. Any recipe you use for bisquits you use for hoe cakes. When you go to cook the hoe cake use an iron skillet. Grease the skillet and put your bisquit dough (the whole cake) in the pan and bake. The reason why my grandmother made these was for the quick and easy way to make bisquits without having to roll out the dough and to cut out the bisquits.

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    Brenda - September 11, 2010

    My recipe for hoe cakes is 2 cups self-rising corn meal; 1 cup self-rising flour; 2 eggs, and enough buttermilk to make a thick mixture….can also add a little water to make it a bit thinner, and quicker to fry. Fry in olive oil, cooking oil, bacon grease — but have the bottom of the pan covered. When finished, spread with butter and enjoy!

    Reply
DChiu - September 13, 2010

I was watching True Blood’s latest episode and when Sam Trammell mixes up some hoe cakes, I thought, “well, I gotta have some of that!” (hoecakes, that is, not Sam Trammell). So I tried this recipe and used yellow cornmeal. Maybe the cornmeal I used was too gritty because the cakes just didn’t hold together in the frying pan and turning them was near impossible. I can see how baking them in a pan would work much better, but it’s such a pain to turn the oven on! So I had to modify the recipe, while keeping it gritty with all that cornmeal goodness, and not turning it into a pancake, as some other websites seem to do.

I added an egg with every cup of cornmeal, a bit more salt, then put in a chopped up jalapeno pepper, corn kernels, and shredded cheese into the mix. Then I served it with lox, a dollop of sour cream and chopped chives on top. And that was breakfast!

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    Diana in NYC - September 14, 2010

    Hi DChiu…OMG, watching the season finally of True Blood this weekend was exactly the reason why I am having a hoe cake breakfast this morning sitting in front of my computer. I am from the north so i don’t even know what a true hoe cake is suppose to taste like. I bet alot better than what mine’s came out tasting like. i followed some other recipe that turns the hoe cake into a pancake. maybe i should try the regular way. your recipe looks scrumptious. last year, Tara’s mother also made her some hoe cakes so i have been craving them since then. Cheers :)

    Reply
      CakeBaby - August 1, 2012

      That’s exactly why I’m here! Rewatching that old True Blood episode where Tara’s mother makes her hoe cakes (with bacon grease) so I had to look up hoe cake recipes to see what they were. Too funny!

      Reply
Heather - September 15, 2010

I tried to make hoecakes last night but I had problems with mine.They wouldn’t stay together in the pan.They were impossible to flip because they stuck to the pan.I followed the recipe above exactly.Can anybody help me out?

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    gemiwing - September 25, 2010

    Hey Heather,
    I had a problem the first few times I tried to make them because I didn’t have the oil high enough. Now I use the ‘water drop’ test- if a bead of water pops when dropped into the oil, then I add the hoe cakes. I was also trying to turn them too fast, so they hadn’t formed a good enough crust on the bottom (which holds them together). Then, once I didn’t add enough oil- trying to watch my girlish figure! lol
    Dunno if those were your problems, but that’s what I’ve learned.

    Reply
Debbie - October 28, 2010

These were wonderful and came out great! I only had these one time on a camping trip with my family in the 70’s when I was a teenager, but I’ve always remembered them (but didn’t have a recipe). I woke up this morning with “Hoe Cakes” in my brain (after 35 years?). I looked at other recipes online and they seem to be like a pancake, but this recipe is the real deal! Crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, just like I remembered them. I will surely make them again. Thanks!

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tom118 - October 28, 2010

I used to LOVE my grandma’s hoecake, but she always used white corn meal and buttermilk, with no eggs. Anyone have a recipe along these lines?

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Dorothy Cross - December 2, 2010

Pure heaven! My mother died when I was 9 so my daddy did the cooking until I learned how. My hoe cakes (made with yellow corn meal and flour . . dad’s recipe) never matched his or my grandmothers.I’m 85 and today found me yearning for that down home taste so I whipped up a batch. Might make them a staple. A white corn meal recipe should work by substituting it for yellow. And buttermilk is the best way to go.

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Amber - December 24, 2010

Yummy! Thank you for this recipe and your helpful website.
After reviewing you menu plan, I was intrigued by this ‘Hoe Cake’ and tried your simple recipe. I had everything on hand and made them for husband and I for breakfast with eggs and fruit salad.
I lowered the salt and added some sugar to the recipe, then fried them in coconut oil in the cast iron skillet.
We are looking forward to adding this treat to many more meals!
We are learning that saving money is gaining adventure.

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Luther V. - September 28, 2011

OK people listen up! There’s only 3(4 if you like to mix) ingrediants that are essential to hoe cakes, but they are not limited to those ingrediants you are only limited by your imagination. Basic ingrediants are:

Flour and/or Cornmeal(white or yellow before you ask)
salt
water

Eggs and buttermilk, jalapenos, corn, bell pepper, etc, etc,-anything you like can be added, these cakes were developed primitively and adapted by people living a hardscratch, rural life. These cakes can be as simple as bread or as fancy as crepe suzettes. My kids love them(as I did) as a breakfast bread with eggs overeasy(MMMM sop-eggs) chop the eggs maybe with some fresh home-grown sharp tomatoes, eat ’em up then mop the juice(yolk and whatever else) DELICIOUS!!!

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    Melissa Stinson - June 27, 2012

    Your recipe sounds like the one my mother used while I was growing up. Delish!

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Joe T - November 22, 2011

I grew up on hoe cakes here in South Central Kentucky. The mix was white corn meal and a dash of salt. We generally used milk instead of water to mix and lard as shorting. The mix was spoon dropped into the sizzling lard, all contained by a slick iron skillet. It was fried till crunchy brown on both sides. We ate them with the beans and potatoes of the main course then with homemade butter and molasses for dessert. Yes I know this whole thing dates me very badly. Now I have hoe cakes very rarely and never fried in lard I’m afraid. This was also part of the rural hardscratch life diet that Luther V mentioned above.

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M. Stone - November 27, 2011

Thank goodness I finally found the CORRECT RECIPE for HOE CAKES! When reading it I knew I had found the jackpot. And, I always wondered where they got their name, which you provided. I always looked forward to getting some of these jewels when visiting relatives in southwest GA (Donadlsonvile & Bainbridge), along with the conk peas and sweet corn.

These other sites with Hoe Cake claims need to call theirs another name.

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    Jamie S. Ross - December 5, 2011

    Growing up this was simply what we knew as “cornbread.” Sometimes it was called “hot water bread” but usually just plain “cornbread” as opposed to “baked cornbread” which we had less often.

    Thank you so much for the recipe.

    Dear M. Stone. please tell me what are “conk peas?” I am dying to know!

    Reply
Tammy - June 25, 2012

These are wonderful.

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Melissa Stinson - June 27, 2012

I grew up eating hoe cakes made of both cornmeal and flour cooked on the stove top in a flat cast iron skillet. My mother also made fried cornbread always with white cornmeal and if you don’t want them to be too heavy use fine or extra fine ground cornmeal. She only puts water and salt in hers, but my dad who also fries corn bread uses a little shortening, butter or bacon grease, boiling water and a little plain flour which helps keep everything from falling apart.

About yellow vs. white cornmeal, I’ve always heard that white cornmeal is used more in the south.

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Stephen Seubert - August 6, 2012

My grandmother made this exact recipe but called it “dog bread”, why? I do not know, she was from
Rustin, LA. I wonder if this sounds familiar to anyone. I am in my 60’s and can still taste that wonderful
hot bread with melted butter on top.

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    Jeannine - February 11, 2015

    I have been hoping for someone to call them Dog Bread. Every so often, I Google “Dog Bread”, and that’s how I found this recipe-from your comment. And this is the recipe that my Dad must have used. He was the cook in our family (and in WWII) and he’d make these to serve with Pork chops and greens. He grew up in the Depression in the Deep South in a town that had 1 store (PO, gas and store) and one other gas station- he ate a lot of squirrel, coon and possum-hunting in the hollows with the dogs. He told me a story about Hush Puppies and I assume it was also true about Dog Bread. Both recipes were cheap enough to feed to the dogs,since they couldn’t have afforded commercial dog food even if it were available. So when the dogs would whine for some of their food, they’d toss a bit and say “Hush! Puppy” He and my mom eventually moved to Aizona (where I live), and his southern food was considered pretty weird to my friends:) He never wrote that one down and he’s gone now. I’ve tried a few recipes that I’ve found on the Internet over the year but this one looks right. I’m looking forward to trying it! Thank you for posting it! I get to share some wonderful memories and some good food!

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Laurie - February 12, 2013

Thank you so much! I’ve been looking for this recipe. My grandmother used to make this! I’ve seen recipes that include flour and I KNEW her recipe didn’t! I can’t wait to try it!

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Chris - January 16, 2014

I’m interested in making these on my next camping trip but I’ve seen several recipes. Most that require only 2-4 ingredients, ask for self rising corn meal.
I just want to clarify so that I don’t mess it up, but is it just regular in this recipe?
Thank you

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Michael - January 20, 2014

This is a basic recipe, but the cake will fall apart without some flour. I traded one cup of cornmeal for self-rising flour and added some baking powder. I also enhanced it by adding a half teaspoon of cinnamon and one-third cup of sugar. These are great with syrup, jams, and fruit. If you use a good non-stick pan, you don’t need the oil; and don’t cook at too high a temperature.

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Joy - January 13, 2015

If you can find a good, stone ground white cornmeal you will have a sweeter flavor. Traditional southern cornmeal is from white corn, not yellow, and is sweet by itself. Sugar was added to recipes after yellow meal became the norm in stores replacing the sweeter white corn.

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