Ash Cakes are unleavened corn bread – usually cooked on an open fire, and managing the fire is the most challenging part of the cooking. The recipe is fairly basic:
1 cup corn meal
½ cup wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
The flour improves the taste and makes the cakes hold together – it isn’t absolutely necessary. Combine the ingredients, mix well, and gradually add water, stirring as you go. Quit adding water when the mix is still too thick to pour, but will drop from a spoon. Brush back the coals and ash from the fire (here I like to have a large flat rock in the fire). Drop 2 or 3 big spoons of the cornmeal mixture onto the hot rock or bare soil. Rake coals from the fire to cover the ash cake. Bake for about five minutes – it’s done when you can push a sliver of wood into the cake at its thickest point, and the wood comes out clean with no moist dough. Take the cake from the fire, dust and blow off the ashes, and your cake is ready to eat.
If you’re trying it in the house, substitute an electric fry pan for the fire, heat it to 350 before starting your ash cake, and use the lid to keep the top of the cake baking.