What I’m Baking: Cornmeal Pancakes

Pancakes w Butter

There’s a part of me that thinks I must have been an old Southern lady in a past life.  Despite growing up in Miami where Cuban food is the more typical comfort food, I have a deep and profound love for all Southern food.  I could eat grits with every meal.  Fried chicken and waffles is, in my opinion, the greatest food combination ever invented.  Just the thought of biscuits makes me happy and I’m obsessed with all things cornmeal.  I mean seriously obsessed.  I truly believe that cornmeal makes everything better.  Waffles?  Add some cornmeal!  Biscuits?  Make them cornmeal!  Shortbread?  Sure why not, throw some cornmeal in there!  Chocolate pudding?  Ummmmm…….maybe don’t add cornmeal to that one, but you get my point.

One of my favorite cornmeal dishes is Cornmeal Pancakes.  They are my go-to weekend breakfast, especially if people are in-town visiting or coming over for breakfast.  These pancakes are huge crowd pleasers.  I’m telling you people – it’s the cornmeal!  It’s magical stuff.  I went through a lot of recipes before finding the perfect one.  You would think that a great Cornmeal Pancake recipe would be easy to find, but I’m oddly picky about my pancakes.  Every recipe I found seemed to have some kind of problem.  The pancakes were either too thin or they weren’t cornmealey enough or they were too sweet.  I was about to give up hope until one day, while looking at The LA Times online, there it was…….the absolute perfect Cornmeal Pancake recipe.

This recipe is everything I could ever want in a pancake.  They’re thick, fluffy, and delicious with just the right amount of cornmeal.  Another testament to the greatness of this recipe is that I only made one very slight tweak to it.  I like my pancakes to be really cornmealey (shocker – I know), so I use half regular cornmeal and half coarsely ground cornmeal.  The coarse cornmeal adds a little bit of crunch to the texture and makes for a really great hearty pancake.  Pancake batter is one of those things that gets better the longer it rests.  The best thing is to make it the night before and let it rest in the fridge overnight.  I rarely have enough forethought to do that, but even just setting it aside for 30 minutes will make a difference.

These pancakes are phenomenal with a little butter and some maple syrup.  If you really want to up the awesome factor, fry up some turkey sausage to go on the side.  You really can’t get a much better breakfast than that!

JD Eating Pancakes

Cornmeal Pancakes
Makes about 5 to 6 large pancakes

Recipe adapted from The Los Angeles Times

½ cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup coarsely ground cornmeal (Bob’s Redmill makes a good one)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup boiling water
½ cup milk (2%, whole, soy, any kind will work)
1 egg
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large bowl, combine the yellow and coarse ground cornmeal, salt, butter, and honey.  Pour the boiling water over these ingredients and whisk well.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 10 minutes.  This helps to soften the cornmeal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until smooth.  Add this into the cornmeal mixture and whisk until well combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the top of the cornmeal mixture.  Stir in the flour using as few strokes as possible.  It is extremely important not to overbeat the pancake batter.  If you do, you’ll risk having tough, rubbery pancakes instead of light and fluffy ones.  The batter will be lumpy, but that’s okay.  When it comes to pancake batter, lumps are a good sign.  Set the batter aside to rest at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan.  Heat is another important component when making pancakes.  You want the pan to be hot, but not too hot.  That sounds a little Goldilocks, let me try to describe in better terms.  If your pan is too hot, you’ll burn the outside of the pancake before the inside has time to properly cook.  If it’s too low, then you won’t be able to get the outside of the pancake nicely golden brown and slightly crisp.  I’ve found that heating my pan on medium-low for about 10 minutes and then turning the heat up to medium about 5 minutes before cooking the first pancake seems to work best.  If anything, err on the side of too low instead of too hot.  You can always turn the temperature up!

When your pan is at the right temperature, add about half a tablespoon of butter and give the pan a little swirl to evenly coat.  Using a ladle, pour about one cup of batter into the pan (amount of batter is really your preference, but I tend to like big pancakes).  Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancake and the edges start to look set, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Carefully flip the pancake and cook for another 2 or so minutes, until the center of the pancake feels set.  Transfer to a plate and continue with this process until you’re out of batter.

Almost Ready to Flip    Flipped

These pancakes are best right after they’re made, but if you have any leftovers a great trick is to heat them in the toaster the next day.  It’ll crisp them back up and they’ll be almost as good as when you first made them!

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3 responses

  1. Pingback: Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches « The Earnest Baker

  2. I’ll give them a try as soon as I get some course cornmeal because they sound really good! Keep up the good recipes–I’m having fun trying all of them!
    Love, Aunt Ellen

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