Posted by: A Part of the Solution | May 22, 2012

Outstanding Cornmeal Pancakes

Cornmeal can be tricky. For all it’s so lowly and ubiquitous, cornmeal often doesn’t show its best side until it’s lavished with more than a little TLC. I’d have to say this point makes a near miracle of the house cornbread–this cornbread being ready to hit the oven as soon as the oven is preheated. But I digress. I was talking about cornmeal pancakes. This recipe is based on the one in America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book–it’s a truly great read.

In fact, I’m talking about the cornmeal pancakes I made just this morning. They need about 20 minutes to 25 minutes prep time, and then they’re ready for the griddle. So these cornmeal pancakes are not the ones to make on a heavily scheduled morning. They’re better when someone has a little lead time in the kitchen–say, a plan for brunch. Not to discourage you from making them. And they’re still easier than most dinner foods, and would be delicious some night when you’re in the mood to have breakfast for dinner.

I’m giving a vegan and a non-vegan variant below. For the folks over in gluten-free land, the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour is acceptable here.

Outstanding Cornmeal Pancakes

1 1/4 cups, 6.25 oz, yellow cornmeal

1 3/4 cups, 14 oz,  buttermilk, or plain yogurt and milk stirred together, OR 1 TBSP cider vinegar + 13.5 oz non-dairy substitute OR potato water (saved from a batch of boiled potatoes, if the water was salted, omit the salt below)

2 TBSP lard, drippings, butter or shortening

2 eggs, beaten OR 3 TBSP flax seed whirled in a mini food processor with 4 TBSP water until foamy and very goopy

3/4 cup, 3.75 oz, all purpose flour

2 TBSP sugar

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Stir 1 1/4 cups, 10 oz, of the buttermilk/yogurt-milk blend/milk alternative into the cornmeal in a medium sized microwave proof bowl. Dot with the fat, cover and microwave for 60-90 seconds, stirring once, until the mixture is warm to the touch-warm enough to begin melting the fat. If you don’t want to use a microwave, heat the cornmeal and 10 oz of fluid with the fat gently on the stove, stirring occasionally until the mixture has reached about 115°, or feels warmer to the touch than your skin without being uncomfortable. Now let the cornmeal mixture  stand covered for five minutes. Stir the eggs or flax seed mixture into the remaining 1/2 cup of milk/non-dairy beverage. Stir those wet ingredients into the cornmeal mixture.

With a fork, stir the flour and dry ingredients until completely blended. Stir the dry ingredients into the cornmeal mixture thoroughly, yet briefly. Let the mixture rest 10 minutes whilst you get your skillet or griddle hot. The rest time lets the baking soda do it’s thing and makes the pancakes light and delicious through and through. So don’t skimp on the resting time.

Lightly grease your skillet or griddle. These pancakes swell up and out both as they cook. So make them less large than you want them to be when they reach the table. Don’t try to cook them on a skillet which isn’t yet hot enough, as they’ll just goop there and not get done. The batter is very thick, so medium pancakes are the best size to make with it–too large and the outsides are burnt before the insides are fully solid. This makes about 18-20 3″ pancakes. Give them about two minutes on a side, though at first you may spend more like three minutes on the first side.

These are delicious with maple syrup, treacle, sorghum syrup, honey or molasses. Try them all and find the one which is right for you!

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