Thick Scalded Jonnycakes (1981)

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Thick Scalded Jonnycakes (1981)

i>In Yankee’s April 1981 issue, Paul Darling wrote a comprehensive piece about jonnycakes–cornmeal pancakes, traditionally made from stone-ground whitecap flint corn. They’re particular to Rhode Island, but they have a long history. Some say they’re a Native American tradition; others say they’re a settlers’ recipe. Most people agree that the name comes from “journey cake,” a small, dried biscuit that could travel well. Rhode Islanders on the east side of Narragansett Bay (“East Bay”) tend to prepare their jonnycakes thin, made with cold milk; the west side (“West Bay,” also called “South County”) favors a thicker version, made with boiling water–an East Bay/West Bay controversy that wound up as a subject of debate in the Rhode Island legislature. In this recipe and the one following, we present both sides of the story–decide for yourself.

Total Time: 15
Yield: 18 pieces


  • 1 cup white cornmeal
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3-4 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or molasses (optional)
  • Butter or nonstick vegetable-oil spray


In a medium-size bowl, combine ingredients (except butter), to the consistency of mashed potatoes, adding more liquid if necessary. Drop by spoonfuls onto a hot, greased griddle; cakes should be 1/2 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Fry 6 to 8 minutes on each side, or until brown, crunchy crust forms.

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