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.