Cruzan Johnny Cakes
With this recipe, I wanted to pay homage to my family's island, St. Croix, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria (shout out to our ancestral island of Puerto Rico, where I am also sending all my love).
Johnny Cake goes by different names in the Caribbean (bakes, fried sweet dumpling, etc.), but they are a staple where my father grew up in the US Virgin Islands. It's a very simple, unleavened fried bread that goes with just about anything. I love them for breakfast with coffee and some cheddar slices, but they can go with stews, beans, fish, meats...whatever! SUPER easy to make and won't cost you very much at all. You may already have all the ingredients on deck. Let's get started....
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp butter, chilled and cubed
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup water
vegetable oil, for frying (or your high smoke point oil of choice)
1) Sift dry ingredients together.
2) Cut the cubes of butter into the flour mixture until the butter is fully incorporated and you're left with a crumbly texture.
3) Mix in the beaten egg until fully incorporated.
4) Combine the milk and the water and splash it into the flour mix, little by little (not all at once), until you've reached the proper dough consistency; it should be smooth, not sticky. If you wind up with a sticky dough, sprinkle in a bit more flour and continue to knead the dough until it is nice and smooth. Remember, the humidity levels in your kitchen can affect your dough, so this is why you may or may not need to adjust how much flour you use.
5) One the dough is at the proper consistency, cover it for at least ONE HOUR and allow it to rest. This helps the gluten in the dough relax so that you can easily form your Johnny Cakes before frying. You can also wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to fry.
6) After your dough has rested, shape it into balls (about 2in diameter) and flatten them into little round cakes (no more than 1/4 inch thick).
7) Heat enough oil (about medium high heat) in a heavy skillet or pot so that the oil comes up the side of the pot about 1 1/2 inches. Drop in your johnny cakes, and flip them to the other side once they are nice and golden. Drain them once you take them out the oil on a plate lined with paper towels or napkins.
8) Serve your Johnny Cake up with sliced cheddar (or your favorite cheese) and a nice hot cup of coffee, Cruzan style.