So - who is Johnny? Well, Johnny isn’t a person. Johnny is probably a regional way to pronounce journey by dropping the “r”. But Johnny could also be a mispronunciation of “jannock” a British word for a type of bannock.

Whatever the name, the johnnycake originated with the Wampanoag and other native peoples along the eastern coast of the United States who must have shared the recipe with the early settlers. 



Johnny Cake Recipe

(Serves 1 - 3)

1 cup of yellow cornmeal

1-1/2 to 2 cups of boiling water

Salt to taste (optional)

Oil or grease

In a bowl mix the cornmeal, brown sugar, and salt.

Boil the water and gently pour it into the cornmeal mixture, stirring as you pour. Make sure the water is boiling or the mixture won’t thicken properly. Stir vigorously until it thickens, about 30 seconds, then let the batter rest for about 10 minutes.

Heat a pan or griddle over medium heat. Add oil to the pan. Then scoop the batter into a mound about the size of a ping-pong ball. (An ice cream scoop works great for this.) Press each mound so it flattens to about half an inch thick.  Cook over medium to low heat for 10 minutes on each side until they are brown and crispy.

Serve with cranberry sauce (see our recipe on the cranberry page), jam, maple syrup, honey, etc. Or serve as a bread with chili or stew or soup.

Johnny Cakes with Blueberry sauce pilgrim recipes thanksgiving many hoops

Johnny Cakes with Blueberry Sauce

 Bread recipes Thanksgiving Pilgrim Native American Wampanoag many hoops

A cake or round loaves of bread. This bread can be boiled or baked in ashes covering the bread with leaves.

Boiled Corn Bread

Boiled bread is a small patty made mostly of cornmeal with crushed nuts and berries added in. It is dropped in a pot of boiling water and when done, rises to the top.

1 quart slightly boiled water (this water can be a broth from boiled greens)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, and/or currants
1/2 cup crushed nuts or seeds (walnuts, hazelnuts or sunflower seeds)
Maple syrup or sugar to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly. After mixing, slowly add a spoonful at a time of slightly boiled water. When the mix is thick enough to be sticky, shape round patties (about 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick). Return water to slight rolling boil and drop in 1 or 2 patties, carefully making sure they do not stick to the bottom. Remove breads when they begin to float.

 Bread recipes Thanksgiving Pilgrim Native American Wampanoag many hoops

  Gingered Bread

Pilgrim recipes gingered bread many hoops thanksgiving recipe

“Gingered” bread, not to be confused with modern Gingerbread, was a popular dessert during the 17th century in England and probably with the Pilgrims. But, spices were very valuable and used sparingly, so Gingered Bread would only be made for special occasions.

Pilgrim recipe gingered bread many hoops thanksgiving

The following recipe is adapted for a modern kitchen with ingredients, measurements, etc. in parenthesis.

Gingered Bread Recipe

1 loaf of stale (dry) bread (8 oz. or about 7 slices)

1 pat of butter (1 tablespoon)

Honey (about 2 oz.)

Powdered ginger (1 to 2 teaspoons)

Crushed peppercorns (1/4 teaspoon)

Take off the crusts and roughly crumble the bread into a bowl.

Rub the bread through your fingers to make fine crumbs.

Melt the butter and honey together in a pot by the fire (on a stove at medium heat)

Pour the melted mixture into the breadcrumbs.

Grind the pepper in a mortar, add this and the ginger to the bowl (mix the pre-ground spices into the bowl with melted mixture and breadcrumbs)

Mix well with your hands to make a stiff dough

Line the wooden mold with a clean cloth (Line a baking pan or glass ovenware dish with parchment paper which is made for cooking.)

Place the dough into the cloth (parchment) and press down firmly

Leave to cool completely (put in the refrigerator until cool - about an hour)

Lift the cloth (parchment paper) from the mold (baking pan or ovenware dish) and turn out (slide it off the parchment) onto a cutting board

Cut into squares, arrange on a plate and serve.

gingered bread pilgrim thanksgiving recipe many hoops

To make this dessert look more colorful or festive you could divide the recipe in two or make another batch adding food coloring to one of them.

 Bread recipes Thanksgiving Pilgrim Native American Wampanoag many hoops


Pecan Cranberry Loaf

1 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c brown splenda or 1 cup regular brown sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp each baking soda and salt

2 eggs

1 1/2 c buttermilk

1/2 c butter

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 c dried cranberries

1/2 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan and do it very well. In a large bowl, combine flour, Splenda or brown sugar, baking powder and soda and salt. Make a well in the center add eggs, milk and margarine and vanilla. Combine. Sprinkle in cranberries and pecans, stir just to combine. Bake for 65 to 75 min. or until centre come out clean when picked.


 Bread recipes Thanksgiving Pilgrim Native American Wampanoag many hoops