Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

Black Cherry Hoecakes {Cornmeal Pancakes}

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

Admit it, when you read the recipe title “Black Cherry Hoecakes” your mind immediately went to the gutter.

I’ll confess mine did the same the first time I heard the term “hoecakes” when traveling in the American South as a young college student. It sounded like the perfect insult to use on my sisters the next time I saw them.

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

But while the word “hoecakes” may be a great way to annoy your siblings, the dish “hoecakes” carries anything but a bad connotation. Cornbread pancakes, cornmeal pancakes, Johnny cakes or hoecakes – whatever you want to call them, they’re damn delicious.

If you are new to hoecakes, let me enlighten you on a wonderful Southern tradition: hoecakes are pancakes made from cornmeal, plain and simple. But they are anything but plain and simple, as making a pancake from sweet cornmeal is an incredible way to spice up a traditional buttermilk hotcake breakfast.

In my opinion, cornmeal is an underutilized ingredient in baked goods and breads. It is a versatile grain that lends a mild sweetness and reduces the need for additional sugar in pancakes, breads and sweets. It lends a meal-y, grainy flavor that I love and wanted to recreate with these Black Cherry Cornmeal Hoecakes.

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

Black Cherry Hoecakes: Tips, Tricks & Tools

Have you ever noticed everyone has a different style of pancake and they’re all perfect in the their own way?

My dad is a pancake master and after years of trying to recreate his magic I’ve realized it’s not me, it’s not the mix…it’s his griddle. His pancakes are thick, fluffy and perfectly brown and it all comes down the pan.

My grandmother. on the hand, was the master of a thin flapjack with crispy edges. Same mix (Aunt Jemima) but different pan and cooking style. Completely different pancake.

My own hotcake style is somewhere in the middle, a medium size with medium thickness. I have a few little tricks that help me achieve this uniformity and a few mix and pan recommendations below.

  • The best pancakes always start on a hot griddle. Have you ever noticed how your first pancake is ok, your second is good, but your third is great? Somehow it took me years to figure out that the hotter pan, the better the cake (Captain Obvious, over here). The key to great pancakes from the start is to preheat your griddle to medium-high heat before making your first cake.
  • You need quality mixes or flour. I’m not here to hate on pancake mixes, in fact I cook with them regularly. For this Black Cherry Hoecake recipe, however, I did start from scratch with Bob’s Red Mill Cornmeal, but this Arrowhead Cornmeal is a great product as well.
  • You need a good pancake griddle. While a pan or cast iron skillet will do the trick, the best pancakes I’ve had always came from a pancake griddle. This large 2-burner griddle is one like my father uses or this Lodge griddle is another type I’ve cooked on before. Or, if you’re planning to photograph and want a uniform size and shape, use this pre-formed “silver dollar’ griddle.

And remember, let it heat before pouring that batter!

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

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Black Cherry Hoecakes {Cornmeal Pancakes}

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 pancakes

Ingredients

Hoecakes

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk (plant-based milk or water ok)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or 1 pat butter

Black Cherry Sauce

  • 4 cups black cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • Optional: 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, agave or brown sugar

Instructions

Hoecake Instructions

  1. Heat pan to medium-high
  2. Mix together cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. Add eggs, milk or water and whisk until smooth.
  4. When pan is thoroughly heated, add vegetable oil or butter and let heat.
  5. Pour 1/2 cup batter on pan and cook without moving until batter starts to bubble and thicken on top, about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Flip and cook one more minute on other side before plating.

Black Cherry Sauce Instructions

  1. In a medium pan, heat cherries over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until juices are released and start to thicken.
  2. To sweeten, add maple syrup, honey, agave or brown sugar (optional).

Notes

Tip: For a thicker pancake, make batter and let sit a few minutes before pouring on griddle. A thicker batter means a thicker pancake.

Recipe adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Cornmeal Pancakes, but made it my own after years of enjoying hoecakes.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 serving (1 large pancake with sauce)
  • Calories: 230

Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!

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Black Cherry Hoecakes, or cornmeal pancakes, topped with fresh black cherry sauce. Also called Johnny Cakes, these hotcakes are a southern food breakfast and brunch classic!