This nice and heavy bread is very common in Belize, to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if 70% or more of the country eats it every morning for breakfast. This little bread can be used to make an AMAZING breakfast sandwich (move over Egg McMuffin), to just be eated warm with butter, with ham & cheeese, with just cheese or cheese whiz (in the jar not the can), can be eaten along with soup or with breakfast on the side. You can do wonderful chicken tortas and just use it however you use bread.
Now, a little bit of history on the Johnny Cake. It was made by Native American Indians with cornmeal, then it caught on and was used by the slaves but with flour, and this is the JCakes we know in Belize. They were made primarily as a staple for travel because it would stay good for weeks and was actually called "Journey Cakes".
People in Belize have now been cooking these in regular ovens and they are still good but, the REAL way you should cook these is again on open flame...or if you want you can cook em in the oven and then put them on a grill with salami and cheddar cheese...HIGHLY RECOMMEND! But that's not why we're here today...today we bake Johnny Cakes! On to the recipe...
Johnny Cake w/ salami and cheddar cheese over open flame.
-2 lbs White all purpose flour (7 1/4cups)
-4 ounces crisco baking shortening or any kind of baking shortening (8 tbsp)/ plus a lil extra melted for rubbing.
-6 tsp Baking Powder
-2 cups Coconut Milk ( you can use Carnation Evaporated milk instead but please use the Coconut milk)
-1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup water
1. in a large bowl sift in your flour, baking powder and salt.
* Everything mixed together to start making dough
2. Add shortening and Milk. and with your hands (the best way) mix everything together and knead it until you get one big ball of dough. Add more water if you need to I usually end up using about 1/2 cup thats why i added it to the recipe. And when you knead the dough don't be afraid to slam that on the counter and punch stretch elbow or fight with it. It will give you a work out if you aren't used to baking bread.
Dough and dough ball to be flattened into johnny cakes. Easier to kneed individual balls instead of whole dough ball.
3. cover with a DAMP not wet DAMP cloth and leave for about 1 hour.
4. After 1 hour start taking out balls about the size of a tangerine or small orange in diameter and round them off until the big ball of dough is done. Leave covered with a DAMP cloth for another hour. (1hour) If you want after you've mixed everything and gotten to the dough stage before u knead it u can start balling them off kneading them individually, it's also easier for amateurs in baking.
* Knead individual Johnny cakes.
5. Take the balls and flatten them into little buns place in a cookie sheet greased & floured then take a fork and poke little holes in the tops and bake at 400F (about 200C) for about 30 minutes or golden brown on the top. Before placing them in the oven dip 2 fingers in the melted shortening and gently rub it over the top of the johnny cakes.
* Ready for the Oven!!
6. DO NOT BURN THEM. :)
Now you're done. But there is a simple tradition one must do upon finsihing and pulling Johnny Cakes out of the oven...please grab on that is really hot cut in half and spread butter on it and eat it...seriously you need to do this fresh out the oven!
The more I travel within Belize, the more I fall in love with the cuisine, and I have barely scratched the surface of what really makes up the country’s best dishes. Breakfast in Belize is one of my favorite meals and this is easily attributed to an overindulgence of fry jacks and Johnny Cakes over the years.
Johnny Cakes are really just like hard sandwich rolls, but there is something so homey and addicting about them. You might be familiar with them from other cultures around the Caribbean and Native American Indians. Some people refer to them as Journey Cakes as they would stay fresh for weeks, making them the perfect travel food.
Johnny Cakes served on a mainland Belize tour last month
Also called Jonnycake, these are commonly eaten in places like Jamaica, the West Indies, Dominican Republic, and more — especially along the Atlantic seaboard. You might know them in the Southern US as hoecakes.
Traditionally, Johnny Cakes were made with cornmeal, salt, hot water (or milk) and may or may not be sweetened. However, in Belize, the Johnny Cakes you find are made with flour.
I recently became friends with Tanya, a very talented cook in Belize who recently started a food blog dedicated to Belizean cuisine. Through the good fortune of a number of mutual friends and Facebook, I was immediately hooked in by her blog. This week, she mentioned on Facebook that she was going to make Johnny Cakes and post a recipe. She sent me the link and I gave it a whirl Sunday morning. Well, I have a long way to go in getting these right, but it will be fun trying in the meantime.
My problem has been baking in Taiwan with the humidity and the differing flours. Most flours, even the general all-purpose ones, are high in gluten, which I’ve been told need extra kneading and special care when trying to use in traditional bread making.
Tanya’s recipe for Johnny Cakes on her Tizzle Sizzles blog is quite easy, although if you are hungry when you start making them, better nibble on something as these are not a quick 30 minutes in the kitchen.
I will refer you back to her blog for the actual recipe, but it is quite simple in that you only need:
White all-purpose flour
Personally, I think this is a good excuse to travel back down to Belize and sample more Johnny Cakes — for research sake!
My first batch of Johnny Cakes that came out pretty flat
Although mine did not rise as much as I had hoped, they were still quite tasty. Most people use them to make a breakfast sandwich with meat and cheese, and I learned a great tip from Tanya — Cheese Whiz is heaven! I added beans, eggs with onions, Cheese Whiz, and of course Marie Sharp’s hot sauce from Belize (a must try!).
I didn’t bake all the dough and let a few balls sit up overnight in the fridge. Surprisingly, these actually fluffed up a bit and were much better than yesterday’s batch (lowered the oven rack and used the convection setting today as well). Still have some work to do, but making progress!
Let's try round two of baking Johnny Cakes!
These Johnny Cakes aren't looking too bad this time!
And now, I am munching one of my fresh and fluffy Johnny Cakes today while writing this post — thanks Tanya!
Made an open-face Johnny Cake with Cheese Whiz, beans, eggs, onions, and Marie Sharp's hot sauce!
Nothing like Fry Fish and Johnnycakes to know that you are a true Belizean. Johnny Cakes are not only a delectable morning breakfast but remain one of the top foods to eat in Belize. In this blog post, we share the ingredients and instructions on how to make Johnny Cakes.
Recipe for Belizean Johnny Cakes
1 lb flour
1/2 cup shortening or substitute marjarine, or butter
3 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups coconut milk
Pre-Heat oven to 400 F about 205 C.
Place Flour, Salt, Baking Powder and Shortening in a bowl.
With finger tips rub shortening and flour mixture together (like when making biscuits, the flour and fat should form bread crumb like clumps).
Add Coconut Milk slowly to crumbs like flour mixture and work with hands to make a dough.
Add 2nd cup of Coconut Milk, just enough to make a soft dough. If dough feels stiff add a little more coconut milk.
You are not making bread so do not over mix or knead.
As soon as you have a nice soft dough roll it out into a long strip about 12 to 15 inches. Cut the rolled dough into 1 1/2″ to 2″ size pieces.
Shape into round balls put on greased baking sheet.
Flatten lightly with palm of hand and prick with a fork.
Bake in hot oven until golden brown typically about 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve with Dutch Gouda cheese.
This story is about the fading art of "Johnny Cakes" cooked on "Fiyaa Haawt". Now, for you grammar watchers out there, we know the correct term is "journey cakes" and it's a fire hearth - but for the roots subject of this story, we just couldn't use all that fancy language.
So, forgive us as we investigate the fading art of baking to perfection on an open fire. Jules Vasquez reports from Cairo Street:
Ms. Rose sells JOHNNY CAKES on weekdays, and on weekends, she makes creole bread and bun by order only.
Our Favourite stories: “Johnny Cakes By Faiyahaat”
And from that ancient practice to another, that's not ancient, but at least old-fashioned. It's the process of making Johnny Cakes by faiyahaat. Now, we know it should be Journey Cakes by Fire Hearth, but in one of our favourite stories of 2018, Jules Vasquez found this process so rootsical - that we just had to go with the creole pronunciation. After seeing Rosalind Roland at work, we're sure you'll agree:..
I believe that each culture has their own version of Johnnycakes or Journey Cakes. For Belizeans, Johnnycakes are made with flour, sugar, baking powder, butter and coconut milk This is a very simple recipe that yields 8 Johnnycakes.
2 cups flour 3 tsp. baking powder 2 T. sugar 1/3 cup butter (softened) 5 oz coconut milk
Belizean Johnny Cakes
If you have traveled to Belize, you may be familiar with a “Johnny Cake”. A Johnny cake is to Belize what a croissant is to France. It is a delicious and relatively easy to make breakfast bread roll prepared and served hot every morning.
Johnny Cakes “Journey Cakes”
4 cups all-purpose flour 4 heaping teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons salt 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening 1 cup coconut milk
Heat oven to 400F. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut shortening into the flour mixture, add coconut milk. Combine until dough is easy to handle. Add water if necessary. Knead dough until smooth, form into 2-inch balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes. Flatten slightly to about a half-inch thickness. Lightly pierce tops with fork. Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
Johnny Cakes or Journey Cakes are a biscuit type bread that is make with basic ingredients like flour, baking powder, sugar, butter and coconut milk. As a Belizean growing up the Johnny Cakes didn't include sugar and was made with lard or shortening, but I didn't like the taste so I made a few changes. I replaced the shortening or lard to butter, and I added some sugar. You can can make the biscuit with any milk you have on hand, but the addition of coconut milk gives a rich flavor.
Ingredients 2 c. all purpose flour 3 tsp. baking powder 2 T. granulated white sugar 1/3 c. butter 5 oz. coconut milk 1 tsp. salt (opitional if your butter is UN-salted)
Johnny Cake Recipe
If you visited our Jewel already these goodies will look very familiar. Johnny Cakes are to Belizeans what baguettes are for the French and pancakes for the Americans. We are giving you this delicious Johnny Cake recipe so you can have a little taste of Belize any where you are!
YIELDS: 20 BUNS
4 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ cup of sugar 1 teaspoon salt 8 tablespoons butter at room temperature, cut in small pieces 1 cup coconut milk or coconut cream
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
Add the butter, and mix with your fingertips to obtain a homogeneous sandy consistency.
Stir in coconut milk and knead quickly until forming a smooth ball that easily detaches from the container.
Divide the dough into balls the size of a golf ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let stand for 10 minutes. Then slightly flatten the balls.
Prick in several places with a fork.
Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes by placing the baking sheet towards the lower part of the oven. Then, place baking sheet near the top and bake for another 5 minutes. Times vary greatly from one oven to another, so pay close attention to the color of the Johnny cakes, which should look lightly brown on the top surface.
Enjoy Johnny cakes hot or warm, open and filled with beans, bacon, eggs, cheese, or anything your tummy desires.