Baking Johnny Cakes

I was lucky enough to live at the community panaderia and have a baker as my host mom for three months! Every Sunday and Wednesday afternoon, the delicious aroma of johnny cakes would permeate the air. Johnny cakes are a type of bread, uniquely made with fresh coconut milk. Making them is an all-afternoon process, starting with harvesting coconuts. The outer layers are chopped off with a machete and the tasty white meat is shaved into a large bowl. Little by little, water is poured into the coconut shavings and squeezed until it creates coconut milk. The shavings are removed and fed to the foraging chickens and pigs. Coconut milk is combined with flour, baking powder, salt, and love to make a dough.It is kneaded for quite some time before being sliced into sections and rolled into balls. These are then placed into an extra large paila and covered with zinc to create an oven atmosphere.

After a few conversations and crying babies they are hot and ready to sell. The women of the community bake johnny cakes and sell them for 20-25 cents among community members. It is a wonderful example of a thriving microbusiness. Since I lived in the house, they served as my breakfast the following morning! Now that I live on my own I am their #1 costumer. They’re delicious with PB, nutella and sliced apples. However my favorite combo is to cut the bread in half, slap on a layer of mayo, add a fried egg and fresh basil.


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