I don’t know what made me think of them or even remember what I was doing at the time. Was it when I spotted the rusted cake tin for sale in the antique shop as I was whiling away the hours waiting for mums operation to be over? The tin with the faded white flowers, dented from wear, stained from working men sweat and dust interspersed with the rusty red of time.
If I could see the fingerprints embedded in its crust who would I see? The shearer grabbing the last of home baking as he pulled the next burr filled, fly blown whether from the pen? The farmers wife filling the tin to feed the drovers as they made a camp on their way through their land. They will keep searching for small morsels of feed for their hungry mob? Or would I see the generous neighbour delivering baked goods to the man bereft with grief at the passing of his lifetime companion and she deciding to quietly leave the tin…she had others, she didn’t need this one anyway.
It may have been the smell of the cold winter winds that whipped around the geraniums along the footpath as I made my way to wait for mums return. No matter where I pick up the woody smell of geraniums I am whisked back to my grandmother’s small garden where geraniums seemed to be the only plant to prosper. Geraniums and a prolific crop of tomatoes at the back door each summer.
What it was, wherever it was, whenever it was I found I had a desire for Johnnie Cakes. Another recipe from my childhood memory vault. Another recipe that I have recently realised may not be what the rest of the world knows as Johnnie Cakes, so I had better call these Tunn’s Johnnie Cakes.
A google search tells me Johnny Cakes are American cornmeal flatbread. I did not know this.
My mum tells me she had never heard of these until she met her future mother-in-law – Tunn. They maybe from a CWA recipe book as Tunn was a very active Country Woman for many years. Or she may have just made up the recipe from what she had in the cupboard at the time. Yes, its another of those recipes that can be made from staples in your pantry, though these days many would not have half a pound of butter at the ready. Unless you have a milking cow at the back door!
Others refer to these flat-scone-like-damper-buns with fruit as Hard Timers. I do know they do get a little hard after a few days, but there is nothing like dunking them in a good strong black cup of tea (made with the billy if you can!) to soften them for a treat.
It makes lots. Mum usually halves the recipe, though her notes to the side say to keep the 2 eggs, even if you halve the recipe.
So let me share with you Tunn’s Johnnie Cakes. For authenticity I suggest you cook in a wood stove and make sure you wear an apron as you prepare, as my grandmother would have done.
½ lb (225 gms) butter
1 cup sugar
4 cups self raising flour
2 eggs beaten with 1 cup milk
1 cup of chopped dates or sultanas
Add sugar to sifted flour. Beat eggs and milk and add to melted butter.
Add butter mix to flour and sugar.
Rollout onto a floured board and cuts as for scones
Bake in hot oven. (~180 fan forced)
There was no time on the recipe. Thank heavens for a window in the oven door. Try cooking for about 20 mins.
Serve hot with butter if you can but they do keep.
You are welcome