Updated: Apr 25, 2020
I LOOOOOVE Johnny Cake - not to be confused with Johnny Bread. Yes. In my most humble opinion, there is a difference. Johnny Cake is light, buttery, fluffy and sweeter than its older sister Johnny Bread. You don't knead Johnny Cake, either. And because of that, it comes together in a flash! I'm talking 5 minutes and you're ready to bake your bundle of joy.
Prepare all of your ingredients before starting, that way you move quicker. It's honestly a 5 minute to-do.
Do not use margarine. Margarine just does not operate like butter. Butter will triumph over margarine EVERY time. Margarine has more water than fat and in baking, butter's high fat content is what gives you that rich, crumbly texture you love. Margarine can also cause your Johnny Cake to not rise as high as you'd like. Just ... just don't use margarine, okay? <3
I used salted butter in this recipe, btw. If you are going to use unsalted, you may want to add a liiiitle more (like 1/4 tsp) salt.
While we're on the topic of butter, I like my butter to be suuuuuper soft. But if you're in a rush, you can also melt it in the microwave - but not completely.
Milk versus water. Honestly, you can use water in this recipe but again, if you're going for that rich buttery taste - full fat milk is where it's at. Some have used water, 2% milk, skim milk and even almond milk with much success but I'm old school and I can't imagine any other flavor to accompany my lime-y, pepper-y Sheep Tongue Souse!
Sugar! Ahhh. This is where you can get flexible. I like my johnny cake a little sweeter. Now, when I made this the first time I used a full cup and no. LOL - oh my goodness no. It was literally a cake. So scale back to 1/2 - 3/4 if you still want that sweetness without your teeth being on edge (you can taste it as you go). But whatever you do, don't omit it. Sugar keeps your Johnny Cake soft and moist. The bond between sugar and the milk (or whatever liquid you're using) allows sugar to lock in moisture so that your Johnny Cake doesn't dry out too quickly. It creates tenderness, deepens colour and adds flavour. Say it with me - Sugar is our friend.
Pan placement. Whenever I'm baking a white, yellow or vanilla cake, I place the pan in the middle of the oven and place a baking sheet at the floor of the oven. Why? Well unless you're working in an actual bakery and have a convection oven, your home oven can be a little tricky to maneuver. I know that sounds insane but ovens be LYING. Between hot spots and the oven not being calibrated, it gives me a headache. You don't want your Johnny Cake to "brown" before it's really done so to help with that, this is my little trick and it worked wonderfully!
Now that I've talked your ear (eye?) off - let's get it!
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 - 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, (very) soft or melted
1 1/2 cups milk
In a medium bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients.
Add butter and milk to the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula.
The consistency should be smooth and a little thicker than a boxed cake mix (it pains me to even say those words). The batter should flow off your spatula back into the bowl.
Grease your 8x8 pan and pour your mixture in.
Bake at 350 for about 45-55 minutes.
I used an 8x8 glass pan and this is the temperature and time I used (baking on the middle rack with a baking sheet at the bottom of the oven). If you're using another material, you may want to keep an eye on the pan at the 35 minute mark.