Old-fashioned Corn Meal Griddle Cakes (Corn Meal Pancakes)

Stack of Corn Meal Griddle Cakes on Plate

Saturday morning, and I still hadn’t made a hundred-year-old recipe for this week. I wanted to make something easy, yet tasty. And, week-ends are the perfect time for pancakes, so I flipped through my hundred-year-old cookbooks looking for an easy pancake recipe. I found a recipe for Corn Meal Griddle Cakes that fit the bill.

After adapting the recipe a bit because the batter was too dry (it wasn’t even really a batter) when I followed the original recipe, the Griddle Cakes turned out well. They had a nice taste and texture that reminded me a bit of corn meal muffins.

This recipe made me wonder how spelling and terminology has changed over the past hundred years – though I ended up deciding that perhaps it reflected regional variation more than change over time.  If I’d written this recipe, I would have combined “corn” and “meal” into one word “cornmeal.” And, I’d have called them “pancakes” rather than “griddle cakes.” Yet when I google whether corn meal is one word or two – it appears that either way is acceptable. And, there are modern recipes for griddle cakes..

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Corn Meal Griddle Cakes
Source: New Royal Cook Book (Published by Royal Baking Powder Co., 1920)

Something is off with the amount of liquid called for in this recipe. When I made it, I ended up with a crumbly mixture rather than a batter, so I added small amounts of additional milk several times until I had a thick batter. By the time, I had a satisfactory, batter I’d added almost an additional cup of milk beyond what was call for in the recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Corn Meal Griddle Cakes (Corn Meal Pancakes

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/3 cups corn meal

1 tablespoon shortening

1 1/4 – 1 3/4 cups milk

1 tablespoon molasses

2/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan, then stir in the cornmeal. Remove from heat, and stir in shortening, 1 1/4 cups milk, and molasses. Add flour, salt, and baking powder; beat until well-mixed. If the mixture is too dense, add additional milk until there is a thick batter.

Heat a lightly greased griddle to a medium temperature, then spoon batter onto the hot surface to make individual pancakes. Use back of spoon to spread the batter into 3-4 inch circles. Cook until the top surface is hot and bubbly, and then flip and cook other side.

[Note: I made this recipe in a large saucepan that did not contain a stick-free surface. I added ingredients and beat the mixture in the pan. However, all the beating and stirring has the potential to damage the coating of some pans, so it might be preferred to heat the water to boiling, then pour it over corn meal that is in a mixing bowl – and then proceed from there using a mixing bowl rather than a saucepan.]


25 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Corn Meal Griddle Cakes (Corn Meal Pancakes)

    1. I think that my family may have also made something similar to what you described, though we dropped the batter into hot fat, and called them corn fritters.

    1. Thanks for the information and the link. I had no idea that the typical corn meal today is different than what it was in the past. I used yellow corn meal. This would explain why I needed to use so much more water.

        1. When I made the recipe, I assumed there was a mistake, but your explanation makes a lot of sense. The original recipe was in a promotional cookbook published by Royal Baking Poweder Co. It seems like a large company like that would test the recipes that it publishes.

  1. This brought back a lot of memories, and I have made my share of both hoe cakes and griddle cakes. My favorite was stone ground blue corn. A few years ago we had a group of students in Mound Bayou doing a community service work and we could not get the oven to light at the community center. I made corn meal jonnycakes for the bread, and everyone was astonished. It seems as if young people here had no idea…maybe because McDonald’s does not serve them? 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing the story. There are so many wonderful foods like corn meal jonnycakes that people have largely forgotten about. It seems like a loss.

  2. I agree that the corn meal would have been a different textured. I find that I need to adjust the liquid to different brands of corn meal when making corn bread.

    1. I’m learning a lot about cooking with corn meal. It’s not an ingredient that I use very often in my cooking, and I hadn’t realized that liquid needs to be adjusted depending upon brand when making corn meal recipes until you and others explained it to me in your comments.

  3. I am not a big fan of pancakes so I love this alternative! I would never have thought of it. I wonder, can you use honey instead of molasses? I use honey when I make cornbread and it gives it nice flavor. Unless the molasses is needed for a reason other than sweetening?

  4. yum. My husband and I had a ‘corn muffin’ from Dunkin Donuts not too long ago. It was the worst muffin I have ever tasted. I love a real gritty cornmeal muffin or pancake.

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