18th Century Cornbread

For common people in 18th century Great Britain and the American colonies, there were three main dietary pillars, bread, porridge, and ale. People depended on these three things for survival. While there were many similarities between English cooking and that of the colonies. There were also some vast differences as well.

Breads were made with other grains in addition to wheat to make a cheaper loaf for laborers. These breads were promoted to ease the tremendous demand on wheat in Great Britain and Western Europe. This demand for wheat created an important trade link between the mid-Atlantic colonies, where wheat was grown, and Great Britain. The majority of wheat that was grown in these colonies was exported.

 

Recipe source: “Savouring The Past” by Jas Townsend and Son

 

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18th Century Cornbread
We are going to use the earliest cornbread recipe that we have so far from Amelia Simmons in 1796.
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Course Breads
Cuisine American, English
Servings
Ingredients
Course Breads
Cuisine American, English
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
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Instructions
Prep
  1. Place your milk in a saucepan over low heat to scald. To it, add the butter, molasses, and salt, and stir well.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix three cups of cornmeal and a half a cup of wheat flour.
  3. After the milk is heated, add it to the cornmeal and mix it well.
1st Option - Common Loaf
  1. You can pour it into an already greased pie pan and bake it. When it’s done in this method, it’s called a common loaf.
  2. Preheat your oven to about 375 degrees and cook for about a half an hour in this way.
2nd Option - Journey Cakes
  1. Just form up some patties, about a half an inch thick or so and three or four inches around, and then fry them in a pan.
  2. If we’re going to use these as journey cakes, take them with us in a haversack, we want to cook them dry without any oil or butter in the pan.
  3. If you’re going to eat them right away, you can use butter or grease in your pan and they are really tasty.
Recipe Notes

Laborers and slaves would bake these cakes on their hoes right over an open fire, thus the name hoe cakes. They could also be baked on a bannock board right before the fire.

This is a great simple adaptation of bread made with corn in a North American kind of way. I’ve also run into a sauce in an old cookbook that goes great with this cornbread. It’s got molasses, butter, and a splash of vinegar. This would make a great meal in and of itself and also very good with soup or beans.

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Travis Toler

Son of James Ivan Toler and Carol Ann Vadeboncoeur Toler

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