Southern Hoe Cake Recipe

Yum


Hoe cake seems to be a rather elusive recipe, even among southerners. Apart from my own, I have only one friend whose family still makes it.

Even among us though, the variations are vast. His family makes it using corn meal as seems to be the custom among recipes found on the web. My family’s version uses flour and produces a bread much like buttermilk biscuits in flavor only with a lighter and fluffier texture and crispy outsides.

Either way you look at it, hoe cake is revered by those who know of it. I am sure its origins sprang forth much like the rest of our southern dishes – too little time and too few ingredients. It is a simple food to make but will easily take over the starring role at your dinner table. Once you see how simple it is to make, it will take a starring role in your dinner preparations as well!

I made hoe cake for my in laws for the first time this past weekend. Even though they are from Georgia, they had never had it either! It was requested and made the following meal as well, where a pint and a half of fresh apple butter was ate along with it!

I can honestly say that this is a rare recipe, having searched and not found it anywhere online. I do hope you will try it and guarantee that if you like biscuits, you’ll LOVE hoe cake.


Ingredients for this are a cinch. Self rising flour (White Lily, of course!), vegetable shortening, and whole milk. If you don’t have self rising flour where you are, go here for the formula of how to make your own.


To two cups of self rising flour, add 1/2 cup of shortening.

Cut it in with a fork.

Until it looks like this.


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil in the bottom of a cake pan. This is where the old folks use a cast iron skillet but at the time of this tutorial Mama had yet to hand down a cast iron skillet to me so I figured a cake pan with a wee bit of wear on it is just as good ~grins~. Either way, you’re going to add enough oil to cover the bottom of your cake pan and then stick it in the oven while it preheats.

*I am happy to report that I now have a cherish cast iron skillet from my Mama but I still go back and forth between a cake pan and cast iron when making this (whichever on I grab first)  so don’t you dare go feeling bad for whichever one you choose to use.

You want this oil to be good and hot.

Add one cup of milk to your flour mixture and stir with a spoon until all wet.


It should look like this. You can add about a fourth of a cup more of milk if need be. What we are making here is soupy biscuit batter.

Pour into hot pan. The oil should sizzle a bit when you put your dough in it.
Bake at 425 degrees until browned on top, fifteen to twenty minutes.

Remove from oven when it looks like this and turn out onto a plate so it is upside down.

All that brown is the crispy bread. This is SO GOOD! Cut it any way you choose and dig in!

Southern Hoe Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Pour a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of an eight inch round cake pan and place in oven to heat.
  2. Cut shortening into flour well. Pour milk in and stir until wet.
  3. Pour into well heated pan and bake for fifteen to twenty minutes or until browned.
  4. Invert onto plate.
Yum

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Comments

  1. Adeline says

    I just made these—ok—so I was sorta half asleep and I got them alittle toooooo wet….but….other than that they turned out good. I just stuck them back in the oven to dry out alittle more. Next time I’m going to add a wee bit of sugar and watch the milk. OH YES….there will be a next time for sure !

    Thanks for another yummy easy reacipe

  2. Alisha says

    Hi!! I’m so glad i found this recipe and I can’t wait to try it!! I just wanted to let you know some of the pictures aren’t working for me? It might just be me I guess but I would love to see the pics about texture and stuff. Thanks so much!!!!

  3. Jamey says

    I make a version of this using Biscuit mix and milk. I fry them in 3 or 4 inch circles until crisp on both sides. My mother called it Hoe cakes but my children call it Fried Bread. They love it with Nutella spread on the top

  4. stinkypie17 says

    My grandma calls it flour bread. I’m so glad I found a recipe because she usually jus throws it all together. She would make it for breakfast and give me honey and butter. Omgeeee its so good. I can’t wait to have it with my soup.

  5. Rose Overcash says

    I was first introduced to this hoe cake by my mother-in-law 30 years ago. She is from Statesville, NC and this is a staple at her house.
    However, she didn’t have a recipe, it was just a handful of this, dab of that.
    So thank you for a recipe I can follow. My husband was so excited when I found your recipe. It tastes just like his momma’s hoe cake.

  6. Karla Keiser says

    I grew up in the north but have lived most of my life in the South. My son married a Alabama girl and that opened up new horizons on southern cooking. The first year of their marriage I was introduced to boiled custard and we introduced her to Yorkshire pudding. Your hoe cake makes me think about the Yorkshire pudding we make every Christmas with our roast beef. I make it in grandma’s old cast iron pan. If has of course eggs and an “eggy” taste. I wonder if they have some similar origins.

  7. Andrea says

    Hello Christy. I need a little help from you. I have made this recipe for the last couple of years the exact way that your recipe says and the hoe cakes have come out nice brown, ligt and fluffy just like your pictures. BEAUTIFUL. However, something has happened…. the last 5 attempts that I have tried to make the hoe cake it has come out heavy. All the way done and brown on the outside and undone mushy, doughy on the inside. The inside is not done and fluffy. I don’t know what the problem is because I am following the same recipe that I always have. I thought that it may be my oven so I took it to my sister’s house to mix it there and bake it and it still came out done and brown on the outside and undone, wet and doughy on the inside. It was in the oven longer than the recommended 20 minutes each time because it was not ready to come out of the oven at that time. I love this hoe cake recipe. Please help me get back to the better days of making the fluffy hoe cake. Any ideas?

    • Walt from Knoxville says

      Andrea…

      Sounds to me like your oven temp may be a bit hotter than the setting. Try dropping the temp to say 375 to start with and then after maybe 15 minutes turn it up to 425 and continue until browned. I know my oven temp does this with corn bread so after a few times of having to put it back in the oven and wait until it was done in the middle, I figured it out. Hope this helps.

  8. Neltha Adkins says

    The hoe cake is believed to begin with slaves working in the fields. As lunch time approached, workers would mix corn meal and water into dough, place it on the flat surface of the hoe and cook over hot coals. Thus the “hoe cake”.

  9. Cinque Freeman says

    According to Harriet Tubman ‘ s bio, she had 1 hoecake browned in the fireplace for breakfast, and for lunch, if there was time, she would be given another hoecake and for dinner salted pork. The next time you have a hoecake remember that slaves lived off just 1 or 2 a day. Thanks Willie Lynch for providing the blueprint for all Slave Masters and Slave Mistresses to follow.

  10. Donna Cummings says

    I have been making this ever since I found it on your site about a year and a half ago. It is absolutely the best!! I took it to a quarterly luncheon at church,and a man told me it was the best cornbread he had ever had! Was he surprised when he found out there was no cornmeal in it! He had his wife get the recipe! Thanks for all of your fantastic recipes!!!

  11. tim pittmanq says

    Christy, Thank you for sharing, my mom made these with flour as you did. I remember once when I was sick, she made hoe cakes with tomato gravy. This was the best meal I had ever eaten. I made these tonight for my family with a tomato gravy and it was a hit. I hope my Mom is smiling down from heaven tonight!!! Thank you!

  12. Lunette says

    When I was little, my grandmother in Carolina made this on top of a wood stove in an iron skillet. I never knew what it was called but it was so good hot or cold. I make fried bread for my family and they all love it! Will have to try this on top of stove! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Cicely says

    Just thought I’d put in my two cent’s worth. My mom’s family is from Kite, Georgia and her mother “Mama” always made hoe cake from White Lily self-rising cornmeal, salt and a some water to hold it together. This soupy batter is poured into a cast iron skillet with oil and fried until they are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside “pancakes”. Like others commented before, this was cooked over a fire on a hoe (cleaned off I’m sure!) We use this instead of bread for supper. I had never seen this type of recipe for hoe cake and it looks great! I’ll have to give it a try this week. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. Angie McGowan says

    When I was a young girl spending time with my grandparents and family in Pineville, MS, my grandfather would tell us about making hoe cakes for the family because there was never any
    money after the Civil War in the South for flour to bake biscuits daily. During the week the
    family would have Hoe Cakes made with Cornmeal. Sometimes on Sundays or holidays or
    special family gatherings biscuits would be made. This was a special treat because there was
    never in extra money during Reconstruction in the South for families to purchase flour. My
    grandfather lived during Reconstruction on a farm. Thank you for sharing your version of Hoe cakes. I willing be surprising my family with your recipe this Sunday.

  15. Billie DeVoss says

    My Daddy made something he called “hoecake” when I was growing up in Alabama in the 30’s & 40’s. His were the flour version, and he cooked them on top of the stove. They were like large pancakes and we ate them with butter & syrup. I haven’t had them since that time. I’m going to try this version in the oven and then next time on top of the stove. I’ll try different ways of serving them too. Thanks for sharing your version!

  16. Esther says

    I have made this 5 or 6 times since I found the recipe (only 2 weeks ago) and we love it! It’s quick and easy to make and super yummy! The best moment was when my 17 year old son asked what I was making and I said “hoe cake”! The look on his face was priceless! Thanks so much for sharing this, I know it will be a often used and requested item.

  17. Kat says

    Hello,
    Thanks so much for this recipe. As mentioned earlier it is not the typical southern hoe cake that is made with cornmeal but I can attest to this , it is delicious!!! I halved the recipe for hubby and I and cooked it for lunch along with fresh cooked carrots, broccoli,scalloped potatoes and navy beans. It was a real hit with hubby and me. He liked it with honey and butter on it. The bottom is so nice and crunchy. This will be my go to. So much easier than patting out biscuits on a floored board. I must say I think it to be a rather fun recipe. I think the kids of the family will enjoy it!

    I did use buttermilk and leaf lard(rendered pork lard)for hoe cake, corn oil for the skillet and it still came out yummy. With buttermilk the batter was a little thicker with the ingredient amounts listed. I just poured it in the middle of the hot skillet and patted it down to reach the edges. It was kind of thin when cooked but did rise some .Recipe was halved. It had all the great taste and crunch you want..Oh , I used food processor to cut in lard, just a few pulses and it was ready for the buttermilk which I mixed in by hand in a bowl.

    Thanks for the keeper recipe

    Kat

  18. Luna2050 says

    These posts remind me of the old tv commercials – “Certs is a candy mint!” “No! Certs is a breath mint!” “STOP! You’re BOTH right!” lol I am from Georgia and grew up on hoe cake – the flour kind. That is what my grandmother always called it and what I call it, too. I have been making it since I first learned to cook years ago. My husband and I really love it with butter and real maple syrup. Delicious! I guess that hoe cake is to us what we grew up being told it was and we should all keep loving our own versions and those beloved memories of growing up whenever we have a chance to enjoy our hoe cakes.

  19. Helen says

    Thank you for posting! I grew up in Tallapoosa Ga with my dad being from Alabama. This was something he taught us to make at an early age. We had it most mornings.
    It was nice seeing the Hoe Cake I grew up with, as most people think cornmeal when they hear the name.

  20. Penny says

    We have this just about every weekend. My mom (86 years old) makes it for breakfast. We never called it hoe cakes. She makes it the same way except she uses about 2/3 buttermilk and 1/3 sweet milk……and she bakes it in a hot iron skillet 😉 yum, yum……there is nothing better, except when she fries up some sausage and eggs to go with it. I LOVE your recipes

  21. LauraLS says

    My Daddy made hoecake also for us. Was one of my favorite things as a kid and when he passed away I made sure I made them over and over till I got mine just like his were. My recipe is almost exactly like yours I use a lil less shortening but not by much! Sometimes we would even have it just for supper with butter and molasses. Like the other person that commented I see people calling fried cornbread hoecakes a lot but I’m from South Carolina and it was more like a giant biscuit in our house. My Daddy’s family was from North Carolina and evidently to them wasn’t fried cornbread like either. =) I still make it and now my grown daughter makes it also for her children. Also I love that you have White Lily flour in the picture its my favorite flour.

  22. Heather in VA says

    Thank you so much! I’m from Pensacola, FL with my grandmother being from Alabama. This is how she made hoe cake except she made hers on top of the stove. So delicious. She always let me eat mine with honey or syrup. She had the perfect caste iron pan to make it in. Have never been able to find one like it. She’s still with us but unable to cook any longer. Making this for her tonight.

    • Laura says

      Heather,
      If your grandmother is still with you, perhaps you can ask her for her recipe. Even if it is the same as this recipe, it would be nice to have it from her. If she can not write, then either write it down as she tells you or even record it. Then when you want to make some and if your grandmother has passed, you will have a good memory of the time she told you how to make hoe cake. And if you record it, you will have it in her own voice as well.
      Also, I am really into preserving family stories. Perhaps you and any other young ones in the family can sit with her and talk with her about how she grew up, about her family, your grandfather and his family, etc. It really is a great thing to have years later to pass on to your own children.

  23. Paula Preston says

    I grew up in Selma,Alabama and I remember my Dad making this same recipe in a black cast iron skillet on top of the stove. This was about sixty years ago. I love how recipes are passed down through the generations.Thank you for keeping these memories going.

  24. Robin says

    This is very similar to the hoecake that I make. I was taught to use vegetable oil instead of shortening, and canned milk instead of fresh.

    As for its origins, my grandfather learned to make it when he worked on a shrimp boat as a teenager during the Depression. They didn’t have an icebox, so they had to use ingredients that didn’t need refrigeration, thus the need for the canned milk. He was from eastern NC, Beaufort County, to be precise.

  25. Joel says

    Great to find others that know of hoe cake. What a great simple tradition that has been passed down the generations. My grandmother made it for her grandkids, Dad made it my kids and I get to make it for my grandchildren. Our family (originally from Alabama) makes it with Martha White flour, water or milk (pancake-type texture) then fry it in bacon grease in an iron skillet. I’m not selling the products,but these are the brands Grandma and Dad insisted we use. Thank you for sharing the other recipes. I can’t wait to try different traditional family hoe cake recipes.

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