Panamanian Johnnycakes

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Panamanian Johnnycakes are quite interesting. This is another recipe I’ve made for the World Cup football matches, with England. I mentioned it when I’ve shared the recipe for Ghraiba, Tunisian chickpeas flour biscuits. I was intrigued by this recipe, it’s for a biscuit, but that is not flat as a standard biscuit. Also, is made with yeast. I was so puzzled that I did a bit more research. Well, this is how they are made, with yeast and no sugar (almost no sugar). They have a wonderful taste and I think they work great with jam or chocolate spread. They reminded me of a scone.

Panamanian Johnnycakes

These are called johnny cakes or journey cakes. Different recipes for this biscuits can be found in the Caribbeans, but this one is for Panamanian Johnnycakes. Originally they were made in the province of Bocas del Toro (it means Bull’s mouths). The original recipe also demanded for a wood fire, but, unfortunately, I don’t have one. Alternatively, they can be fried, but I avoid frying for health reasons.

I’ve used a mix of white plain flour and white self-raising flour because I run out of plain. The original recipe is with only plain, but it doesn’t make a noticeable difference.

Ingredients for 12 Panamanian Johnnycakes

– 250g white plain flour
– 100g white self-raising flour
– 125g butter, at room temperature
– 1 tsp yeast
– 1 tsp sugar
– 1tsp baking powder
– 200ml coconut milk

Start by making the dough. In the bowl of the stand mixer, weight in the flour. Make a well and put the yeast and the sugar in it. Pour the coconut milk on top. Toss in the soften butter, cut in cubes, and the baking powder. Mix the dough with the mixer for 5 minutes, at low speed.
Meanwhile, grease a bowl with oil. It’s easier if you use an oil spray, that is something I always have at home, is very handy. When the dough is ready, put it in the oiled bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave the dough to rise for 30 minutes, in a warm place.

After the dough has risen a bit, take it from the bowl and weight it. Divide it by 12, making sure they are even by weighting them on the scale. Of course, you can skip this step if you’re not keen on using the scale again. Make a ball and flatten it in the hands. Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Pre-heat the oven at 180C or 160C for fan ovens. While the oven is heating, leave the Johnnycakes to rise again for about 15 minutes.

Now they are ready for baking. Put the baking tray in the oven and bake them for 30 minutes. When they are baked, put the biscuits on a cooling rack to cool down. Now you can enjoy them.

Panamanian Johnnycakes. Interior

As you can see in the picture, the Panamanian Johnnycakes have a lovely airy texture and a delicious crust. The coconut milk gives them a wonderful flavour. I really enjoyed it.

Have you ever made biscuits with yeast? What do you think about that?

4 thoughts on “Panamanian Johnnycakes

  1. Have never heard of those little cuties…they look more like bread than cake to me. Love the tender crumb and thicker crust.

    1. I agree, by looking at the ingredients you would say is more like a bread. That is what I thought too. But the coconut gives them more a “biscuity” taste.

      1. Years ago we were in northern Panama on vacation close to where the Survivor Panama TV series was filmed and discovered Johnny Cakes on our small island when a boy appeared at our door with a plate of them still-warm. We were instantly hooked. We thought they were fried. But whatever, they were delicious! For the remainder of our week we purchased some every day.

        I would love to try to duplicate this recipe. Is it common to bake them? I doubt there were many ovens in the small thatched roof homes of the natives there. And is the coconut milk a variance on the standard Panamanian Johnny Cake?

        1. They can be fried or baked. As they are healthier when baked, I would suggest baking. It also means it’s less work. Coconut milk is traditional for these, as this is what I could find when I searched about the recipe.

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