There doesn’t seem to be any Johnny, but the title may have evolved from the term”journey cakes” since they traveled well. (Although pulling out some pancakes from a hot, smelly saddlebag isn’t the most appetizing of images.)
Thomas Jefferson, on one of his frequent travels to Paris, brought back a similar recipe called crepes, which was a thinner type of our griddle cakes, without leavening, made with wheat flour and served with fruit or a sweet syrup. They were gobbled up at state dinners, and once again that industrious President introduced a fresh and delicious French dish to the colonists.
Consider that they were simple to make, eaten by hand, and the pioneers could cook them on a hot stone around the campfire after a long hard day of traveling. Native Americans probably taught the early colonists how to grind corn, mix it into a paste, add liquid, some fat and in just a couple minutes, they’d hoe cakes, hot and filling. Covered with fresh honey, they were a delicacy. With no need for a bread oven, they could be ready quickly, and if the cook had a cast iron skillet, it could be coated in bacon fat and the batter fried. Those who were fortunate enough to have butter slathered it on and just dug in, napkins be damned. (A shirt sleeve worked just fine.)
Early American hoe cakes undoubtedly made way for hush puppies, cornbread and grits, also made with cornmeal, but that is a whole different story. Incidentally, hoe cakes got its title from field workers using a plain hoe held over a flame, and dropping cakes onto the hoe to cook.
Pancakes are enjoyed all over the world in a large number of variations, served plain, topped with sauces and spices, wrapped around fillings and eaten for lunch and dinner. Some type of flat cakes have been around for centuries, enjoyed by ancient cultures such as the Greeks and Romans, eaten in China, India and Europe. The British-named flapjacks are different from our sandwiches and made with sugar, butter, and oats, usually served with honey.
Recorded history mentions pancake-like foods in the first century (possibly sooner ), and historians who research Neolitic man speculate that flat cakes made with anything handy were probably cooked on hot stones, before cooking pots and utensils were devised, between 10,000 and 3,000 B.C.. Since early cave dwellers usually kept a fire burning to scare away predators, how simple to just whip up a batch of cave man pancakes while they were at it?
Many countries have their own version. Listed below are just a few.
These versions are generally sweet:
Pfannkuchen (German or Dutch )
Apam Balik (Malaysia)
Pannekoeke (South Africa)
These variations are usually served with meats or vegetables:
Cong you bing (Chinese)
Blini (Eastern Europe, Russia)
Kimchi pancakes (Korea)
Cachapas (South America)
So don’t limit yourself to only our favorite pancakes. Experiment and revel in the many versions of different countries and find delicious new variations in any meal. Pancakes. They are not just for breakfast anymore.