A hoe cake is a small cornmeal cake which is baked. Originally the batter was poured on the flat of a garden hoe blade and baked over an open fire.

Hoe cake is a traditional southern US food. It can be as simple as cornmeal, water, and a little salt or contain additional ingredients. Recipes for the batter vary widely, depending on the region where they are found. Some recipes for hoe cake omit cornmeal entirely, relying on flour as the main ingredient. A leavening agent (baking powder or baking soda) can be used to cause the cake to rise, making a lighter consistency product.

Hoe cake is but one of several terms for baked cornmeal concoctions. Some other names are johnnycake or journeycake.

A variation of baked hoe cake involves frying the batter. Small cakes are fried on a hot greased skillet or griddle, the cakes being relatively thin (1/2 inch thick or less), and fried until golden brown. These fried cakes are often eaten with butter, honey, or syrup as pancakes would be eaten.

When I was young my Mom made what she called hoe cake. It was simply biscuit dough rolled out into a large round shape, much larger than the biscuits themselves. When this was baked we simply broke off a piece and buttered it. This rough piece was entirely suited to munching along with pinto beans, greens, or soups.

Sources:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hoecake

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