Mix together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add the shortening and rub it into the cornmeal mixture with your fingers until it is completely incorporated.
Add the egg and milk and stir until a smooth batter forms. It should be about the consistency of pancake batter.
Heat a wide, heavy skillet with the oil over medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot enough to cause a drop of water to sputter on contact, start cooking the hoecakes. For each hoecake, pour a large spoonful of batter into the hot skillet. It should spread into a 3-4-inch round and almost immediately start bubbling. When the top of the hoecake is riddled with bubbles and looks nearly dry, flip it over and cook until the second side is golden brown.
Keep the finished hoecakes warm in the oven until all are done. Serve hot as a side dish with supper, or if you've been very good, for dessert with syrup.