Our Zucchini Johnnycakes are a delicious change-up to a New England classic recipe! Plus – they’re another great way to cook with your summer garden zucchini.
Johnnycakes are a cornmeal flatbread or pancake cooked on a griddle or in a skillet. Some historians believe that Johnnycakes date back to the early settlers of colonial Plymouth, Massachusetts, where they learned to make this simple griddle cake from the local Native Americans.
But there are many others versions of how and when the original Johnnycakes recipe came to be – some believe the name “Johnnycake” is a variation of “journey cake” because this hearty, unleavened corn bread travels well. Others historians believe the name is an adaptation of the name, “Shawnee cake” – a nod to the Native American tribe local to New England.
Over the years, Johnnycakes have made their way down the East coast (and even into other countries) – and it goes by many names including “hoecakes” in the Southern United States where this corn bread is believed to have been originally cooked over a campfire on the blade of a hoe. (You’ll also find that Johnnycakes is spelled many different ways: Johnny Cake, Jonnycake, Jonny Cake, etc.)
Fast forward to today, and Johnnycakes are still a New England classic! My husband Jack worked for many years as a food service director at Raytheon in Rhode Island – and they served Johnnycakes for breakfast and well as a side dish at lunchtime. (Rhode Islanders love their Johnnycakes so much that, up until a few years ago, there was an annual Johnnycake festival!)
We’ve created our own version today – a Zucchini Johnnycake! Shredded zucchini makes our Zucchini Johnnycakes extra moist (and a little healthier) without compromising the hearty, cornmeal taste and texture of the original version. (Plus, we’re always looking for ways to cook with our abundant, summer garden zucchini!)
We cooked our Zucchini Johnnycakes on a griddle in a little bit of bacon fat, and we used these English muffin rings to give our Johnnycakes a perfectly round shape – but using that form is totally optional. (Just spoon the batter into the pan otherwise!)
Then serve your Zucchini Johnnycakes with butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.Print
2 cups white fine corn meal (we used Quaker brand)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar (not a traditional ingredient but it needed it)
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups boiling water
½ cup whole milk heated
2 cups zucchini shredded on a box grater (do not ring out water)
¼ cup bacon fat or butter to fry them in
Maple syrup and butter to serve with the finished cakes
In a heat-proof, medium bowl mix corn meal, sugar and salt.
Add boiling hot water and stir, then add hot milk and stir again. (make sure the bowl is sitting on a trivet as the batter is very hot and may damage your counter)
Fold in zucchini (again include the liquid from the zucchini, don’t wring out or drain).
Heat two grill pans to medium heat. Once hot, coat the pans with the bacon fat or butter.
I used 3 ½ inch grill rings to get nice even edges but totally optional. If using the grill rings, spray the inside with pan spray.
Using a quarter cup measurer, pour the batter into each ring or if not using rings, pour the same amount of batter directly onto the grill pans to make 12 cakes. Use the back of a spoon to smooth the tops of each.
After three minutes, reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking. (If using rings, remove those now, they are no longer needed)
Cook for 5-8 minutes per side to brown and cook through. Flip and cook for 5-8 more minutes until golden brown on both sides. If they are browning too quickly, lower heat to low until they are cooked through.
Remove to a platter and serve hot with butter and maple syrup.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
You may also like: