This is a recipe that is always considered a treat at my house, met with the same zeal as a dessert even though it is just a bread. A variation on my Mama’s hoe cake, she often mixed up the same batter and made drop biscuits instead.
When I first served hoe cake to my in laws, hot from the oven with generous helpings of homemade apple butter, they declared it a hit. They loved the crispy outer layer and soft as clouds biscuit inside. But the next day when I made them drop biscuits (the same recipe, prepared so that there is more of the crispy part), they assured me that the drop biscuits with apple butter were their new favorite.
Hoe cake recipes vary widely. A lot of people make it with corn meal or use more traditional methods of preparation (actually cooking it on a hoe). Every now and then a reader will respond to a recipe telling me it just isn’t like their mother’s. Sometimes they will go so far as to tell me I am doing something flat out wrong because the recipe varies in some way from how their Mama did it. It’s these comments that stand out the most to me because my heart just aches for the folks that say them. I understand there is a lot more to what they are saying than ingredients and preparation methods.
“It’s not like Mama’s” is not so much about missing the food as it is missing the person.
I feel the same way even though I am fortunate enough to still have my mother with me. She was the one who taught me how to cook and as a result, I cook just exactly like she does. Anyone could taste a dish made by Mama next to one of mine and not be able to tell a bit of difference. Still, my cooking to me just isn’t Mama’s.
I want to make one thing as clear as possible: How your Mama made it is the right way. No one will ever cook for you like your Mama did and I’m surely not here to try. But on the same token, Southern Plate is a singular website run by a singular person and as a result, when I bring you a recipe I’m going to bring it to you how My Mama made it, which is the only right way for me.
I know how much a Mama can mean to a person and I hope I can help bring back some of those memories from time to time, maybe by telling you a little of my childhood or my mother’s childhood that reminds you of your own in some way. I hope when this happens that it brings a smile to your face and most importantly, I hope when you make a recipe of one of yours or my loved ones that it helps to bring a bit of their spirit into your kitchen again.
Your Mama will always be a better cook than you, me, Martha or Julia. There was never any competition.
- 2 cups self rising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Preheat oven to 425. Pour a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of a large baking pan and place in oven to heat. Cut shortening into flour well. Pour milk in and stir until wet – add a little more milk if needed. Drop by large spoonfuls onto well heated pan and spoon a bit of hot oil over each one. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes or until browned.
Be sure to try the original recipe, too! Click here.
Originally published on Southern Plate
Photo courtesy of Southern Plate