Hispanic Kitchen

Spice It Up!

This is one of my favorite biscuit recipes. It's so easy to make. My mother used to make these for me when I came out of school.

These simple biscuits have quite a history and touch almost every part of the Caribbean. They used to be called a "Journey Cake" or "Johnny Bread" or "jonnycake." It was a traditional food that colonial settlers took with them on their journeys. They could be found all the way from New England to Jamaica. Eventually the name morphed into Johnny Cake. Take it another step further, and you get Yaniqueques or Yanikekes, as they call them in the Dominican Republic, or Yani-Clecas, as we call them in Puerto Rico.

In other places, they are called fry bread, or tortas fritas. Each country has their own twist on it and name, apparently. For example, in the U.S., this type of cake is a staple in New England cuisine (New Englanders claim it originated in Rhode Island). In the southern U.S., it is called a hoecake.

My family has been using this recipe for years handed down from my mother's mother. It used to include lard, but we updated the recipe to use Crisco instead.

Yields about 30 biscuits


4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (Crisco), chilled
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) butter, chilled
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoon salt
1 cup of milk
Vegetable oil for deep frying


1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. With a dough blender or 2 knives cut in lard and butter.

2. Add egg and continue mixing.

3. Dissolve sugar and salt in the milk. Add liquid by spoonfuls to flour mixture and stir until soft dough is formed. Turn out on floured board and knead gently.

4. Shape dough into a roll, about 2 inches thick, cut into narrowed narrow slices.

5. Press each slice to form a bun about 1/4 inch thick.

6. Deep fry buns in oil about 365ºF until golden brown.

7. Remove and drain on paper towel.

8. Serve with butter and preserves of your choice.

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Tags: clecas, fry bread, johnny cakes, jonnycake, tortas fritas, yani, yaniqueques


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Comment by Cari Caruso on March 15, 2014 at 7:02pm

My office used to be behind an Authentic Jamaican Restaurant and their Johnnycakes had the best savory fillings. You can imagine how creative you can be.


Comment by Petra Curiel on March 13, 2014 at 3:11pm

We make them in Aruba.Thank you for share.

Comment by Geraldine Kulik on March 12, 2014 at 6:36pm

I enjoyed reading the History of The Fried Biscuit, etc. and look forward to trying "Johnny Cake" which I have heard about in so many books of the past.

Comment by Gloria on March 12, 2014 at 6:23pm

These look divine. I need to make them. Thank you.

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