Jan 09, 2014

Old-fashioned Johnnycakes + Blueberry Compote. Vegan and Oil-free.

If a pancake and a corn muffin had a baby it would be a johnnycake! New Englanders claim that the johnnycake originated in Rhode Island. While it has been and remains a very popular dish in New England, Wiki says the origin of this humble cake lay with the American Indians, whose main staple was corn (maize). It is also commonly enjoyed in the West Indies and the Dominican Republic.

The origin of the name johnnycakes is something of a mystery and probably has nothing to do with the name John. They were sometimes called journey cakes because they could be carried on long trips in saddlebags and baked along the way. So perhaps that’s how the name evolved.
Johnnycakes are traditionally made with milk and fried in a cast iron skillet in bacon fat. These modern, vegan johnnies are much healthier and still reminiscent of their ancestors… hearty, grainy, a little gritty and full of sustenance—just a couple will fill you up. I used frozen blueberries for the compote… middle of winter here so no fresh berries in sight! The blueberry flavor pairs perfectly with the cornmeal, but you could also serve them with some mineral-rich date syrup or molasses.


~ dry

  • ½ cup corn meal (grits)
  • ½ cup corn flour (masa)
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 2 TBS coconut sugar or other minimally processed sweetener
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

~ wet

  • 1¼ cups unsweetened non-dairy milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBS ground flax seeds + 3 TBS water

~ for the compote

  • 2 cups frozen blueberries (use organic or wild)
  • 2 TBS fruit-only blueberry jam
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBS tapioca starch + 1 TBS water, mixed well

  1. Combine the milk and the vinegar and set aside (vegan buttermilk!).
  2. Mix the flax meal and the water and set aside.
  3. Place the blueberries, jam and lemon juice in a sauce pot over medium heat. When the berries have thawed and the mixture is hot, add the tapioca slurry and stir well until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  5. Add the flax mixture to the milk/vinegar mixture, stir to combine and add to the dry ingredients. Stir the batter well to combine. It will puff up in a minute or two. That’s okay. Don’t add more milk or you will get mushy johnnycakes!
  6. Drop by ¼ cupfuls onto a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Use an ice cream scoop if you have one to make things easier. The batter will be quite thick and puffy so flatten each cake a bit with whatever you’re using to drop them onto the pan. Flip when the bottoms are golden brown.
  7. Serve with the blueberry compote and whatever else your heart desires.

Make 9 johnnycakes. Enjoy!

Healthy trails,

2 responses to “Old-fashioned Johnnycakes + Blueberry Compote. Vegan and Oil-free.”

  1. Helyn these look amazing! I was just in Whole Foods today looking for a pancake mix that didn't contain any animal products or call for any in the instructions. I didn't find anything ready made. I think I could mix up the dry ingredients your recipe and keep in an air tight container ready to go. My son who isn't eating a plant based diet likes me to make him pancakes when he comes for the weekend but I would like to be able to make them plant based. Thanks for sharing a great looking recipe – I can't wait to try them.

  2. Helyn says:

    Thanks, Tami! I have MANY pancake recipes on this site! Just type in pancakes in the search bar above. 🙂

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