Journey cake

Journey cake

One of Small Boy’s favourite books is ‘Journey Cake, Ho!’ by Ruth Sawyer. It tells the story of Johnny, who works for an elderly couple on their frontier farm. When they lose all their livestock, they can’t afford to feed him, so he sadly sets off to find another place to work, toting a journey cake that the old woman has baked for him. Along the way, the journey cake falls out of his pack and rolls down the road at top speed, singing as it goes. Johnny chases after it, acquiring a collection of new animals along the way, as a cow, a duck, two sheep and other livestock try to catch and eat the journey cake. At the end of his journey, he’s back at the farm having set up the old couple in comfort again.

Small Boy has memorized this story and hears it every night at bedtime. Leaving aside the dubious provenance of the animals Johnny acquires, I love the book. This evening I was low on ideas and ingredients for tea, so I decided to make journey cakes for him. It was easy, as they’re essentially cornbread pancakes. I made a small amount just in case he didn’t like them:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 Tbs oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of salt

For authenticity’s sake, I stuck with cornmeal alone (that’s what a pioneer family would have), but they’d hold together better with a mixture of cornmeal and wheat flour. I got the oil good and hot, dropped a spoonful of batter in the frying pan, and pressed it down into a pancake with the back of a wooden spoon. They were very popular with Small Boy, especially when I spread them with a little roasted pumpkin and drizzled on some maple syrup. He was terribly pleased in any case, just because he was eating something he had read about. He would hold up a piece of food and say ‘I’ve got my journey cake!’


About emilyallwright

I'm an American living in England with my husband and small child. I'm interested in sustainable living and old-fashioned skills, detective fiction and folk music.
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