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Hoe cakes are a traditional Southern cornmeal pancake that are supposed to have been so-named because they were originally cooked on the blade of a hoe over an open fire. Though many modern Southern cooks add wheat flour and sugar to the batter, I think either one in cornbread is an aberration. Hoe cakes are the perfect accompaniment for just about any family meal and needn't be limited to the Southern recipes in this book. They're great with an Italian or French sauté.
Makes about 12 cakes
•2 cups fine stone-ground cornmeal
•2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably single-acting
•1 teaspoon salt
•2 large eggs, lightly beaten
•2 cups whole milk, buttermilk, or yogurt
•Oil, melted butter, or lard, for the griddle
One: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 150°F. Mix together the meal, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk or yogurt and beat until they are smooth. Stir this quickly into the dry ingredients, using as few strokes as possible.
Two: Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, brush it lightly with the fat. Using a large, pointed kitchen spoon, take up about 2 tablespoons of the batter and pour it onto the griddle from the pointed end of the spoon (this helps insure that a round cake will form). Repeat until the griddle is full, but not crowded.
Three: Cook the cakes until the bottoms are nicely browned and air holes form in the tops, about 4 minutes. Turn, and cook until the second side is browned, about 3 to 4 minutes longer.
Four: Transfer them to the warm oven and repeat with the remaining batter until all the cakes are cooked. Serve hot, with or without additional butter.
Excerpted from Fried Chicken by Damon Lee Fowler Copyright© 1999 by Damon Lee Fowler.