Hoe Cakes Make Me Blush

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Hoe Cakes

Hoe Cakes. There’s something about that name that makes me feel uncomfortable. Like I should look over my shoulder to see if there are any ladies present before tell you what I know about them. At their most traditional Hoe Cakes are simply a minimalist’s version of unleavened cornbread made from the humblest batter (cornmeal, water, and salt). In the South you’ll find Hoe Cakes that are somewhere between pancakes and cornbread – crisp on the edge and glistening with the fat they were cooked in. The best have heft, but manage to retain a creamy interior designed to soak up whatever else is sitting on the plate.

Like I said there’s enough Southern gentleman in me to be embarrassed by the name. However, my reaction is a little too PC. Hoe Cakes aren’t saddled in the same sort of lore as say Pasta Puttanesca (if you know what I mean). Hoe Cakes get their name from the old-timey Southern practice of cooking them on the metal ends of field hoes. Or so they say.

Until recently I’d never seen them on the menu here in Los Angeles, but the nationwide fascination with all things Southern is making traditional American dishes like Hoe Cakes staples at hipster haunts all over Los Angeles.

Barrel & Ashes Hoe Cakes

The best of these places is Barrel & Ashes, a Studio City barbecue joint from chefs Michael Kahikina and Tim Hollingsworth. They’re serving Hoe Cakes that are nothing like the humble cakes Southern field workers must have made. This tarted up version (pardon the expression) is made from a sweetened cornmeal, flour and egg batter poured into a blazing hot cast iron skillet. When done right this magically forms a delicate blackened crust around the edges that somehow retains a luscious pudding-like interior. It’s brought to the table with a light swipe of maple butter, elevating this simple Southern side dish. Yes the name still makes me blush, but for all the right reasons. GREG

Hoe Cakes

Barrel & Ashes Hoe Cake

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 3-4Source Barrel & Ashes via LA TimesPublished
Hoe Cakes

Ingredients

  • 100 gram course-ground cornmeal
  • 108 gram all-purpose flour
  • 20 gram granulated sugar
  • 7 gram baking powder
  • 4 gram kosher salt
  • 1 egg, plus 1 egg white (lightly beaten)
  • 333 gram whole milk
  • 236 gram clarified butter
  • 1 slice unsalted butter (for greasing the skillet)
  • Maple butter (for serving)
  • Coarse sea salt (for serving)
  • 1 green onion (chopped, for serving)

Directions

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then fold in the clarified butter. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend to fully incorporate the ingredients.

Heat a small (5- to 6-inch) cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add a small pat of butter to the pan, swirling the pan until the butter is melted and bubbly. Spoon in about 3/4 cup batter, spreading the batter so it reaches the edges of the pan in an even layer.

Cook the batter in the pan until the bottom forms a crust and the batter begins to bubble around the edges, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the cake is almost set but jiggles slightly in the center, 2 to 3 minutes.

Return the pan to the stove-top and flip the cake over in the pan. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until the cake is set and a crust has formed on the bottom of the cake, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread 2 to 4 tablespoons maple butter over the cake, sprinkle over a little coarse sea salt and garnish with green onion. Serve immediately.