[Photograph: Alex Farnum]

Hoecakes—also known as corn pone, johnny cakes, or cornmeal pancakes—are a fairly common sight at brunch tables in the South, but are perhaps less known above the Mason-Dixon line. In its most basic form, a hoecake is simply a mixture of batter of cornmeal, water, and salt fried in lard or rendered bacon fat. (Other more modern recipes add flour, eggs, or whole corn to the batter.) The Holy Hoecakes in the True Blood cookbook fully embrace the simplicity of the original, adorning the cakes only with a (generous) drizzle of maple syrup. While as basic as you get, the crisp, porky outsides and soft, creamy insides make for hoecakes more than the sum of their parts.

Why I picked this recipe: Cornmeal pancakes are great, sure, but I'll take any excuse to cover a bacon-y breakfast with maple syrup.

What worked: Drizzled (or, honestly, doused) in maple syrup, these hoecakes taste like a country version of a maple-bacon donut.

What didn't: These cakes soak up bacon grease like a sponge, so unless your cast-iron is super well-seasoned, I'd stick (heh) with a non-stick skillet instead. In addition, be sure to let the cornmeal-water mixture sit for at least 5 minutes to avoid splattering when you spoon the mixture into the hot fat.

Suggested tweaks: Hoecakes are traditionally served at breakfast, but these are also great as an easy stand-in for cornbread or biscuits--and they're ready in a fraction of the time. I particularly enjoyed them with Gumbo Ya Ya (stick around until Friday for the recipe).

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of True Blood to give away.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.


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