As a child, I spent most Spring Breaks and sometimes even part of my Summer vacation in the Bahamas with my family. We have been to many places in the Bahamas, but one of our favorites is Hope Town. This small village is on Elbow Cay, which forms the northern tip of the Abaco island chain. This area is in the north of the Bahamas, so it’s actually very close to Florida!
In Hope Town, the locals are very welcoming and in this very tiny community there is a cute church, a school, a museum, and a beautiful lighthouse. There are also several groceries on the island that serve up great Bahamian classics! As a child, I remember waking up early in the morning and driving down to these stores. We would pick up some delicious homemade bread for lunches on the boat, plenty of Kaliks, and johnny cake. Kalik, one of the local beers, is always popular, and now that the entire family is “of age” according to Bahamian law, we can go through entire cases each time we visit!
While most of our time is spent boating around from island to island, we also love finding little beaches to sit and relax. Every time we visit there is something new and interesting to do or see!
I decided to post the recipe for johnny cake in particular because it is reminiscent of a Southern specialty: corn bread! I am not a big fan of corn bread because it is usually too dry and often has a slight buttermilk flavor. However, johnny cake does not include buttermilk and for some reason it is always so deliciously moist! Johnny cake batter can be poured onto a griddle and cooked like a pancake, but in the Bahamas it often takes the form of a loaf and thus resembles corn bread.
This recipe is incredibly easy! Really, even beginner cooks can do this! It doesn’t make a mess and it doesn’t take too much time. If you want to add a southwestern twist, you can chop up some jalapeño and throw that in the batter!
Bahamian Johnny Cake
1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup corn meal
1 cup + 1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup butter
First, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl.
Add in the corn meal.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together using a rubber spatula.
In a small container, beat the egg. In a large, microwave-safe measuring glass, melt the butter. While the butter is melting, measure out the milk. Next, pour the milk into the butter and stir everything together. This will help cool the butter down so that none of your egg gets cooked! Add in the beaten egg, and stir well.
Make a well in your dry ingredients, and pour the butter mixture into the well.
Using the rubber spatula, fold the batter in on itself until everything is fully mixed.
The batter will be pretty thick and grainy from the corn meal, but this is okay! This is a hearty, cheap bread that has long been a staple for Native Americans across the East Coast, so it should be thick!
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter or grease an 8×8 baking pan, and spread the batter evenly into the pan.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is cooked through and lightly browned on the edges.
This type of johnny cake can be cut into little slices like corn bread and served with just about any topping you can think of! We really like to enjoy them with butter, preserves, cinnamon sugar, or Alabama white sauce!
They will keep for just a few days and they reheat very nicely on a griddle with butter!