Cornmeal Pancakes

YOU GUYS, I found the Holy Grail of pancake batters. And I didn’t even know I’d been looking for it. All I knew was that I wanted Sunday night pancakes, but with a twist: buckwheat, or, I dunno — cornmeal. That’s when my friend Meghan Makes It came through for me with these cornmeal pancakes from Jenna of Eat, Live, Run. Jenna’s original recipe calls for lemon zest, and while I heart lemons, Jim doesn’t, so I made an immediate decision to substitute orange zest. I also skipped the strawberry sauce in favor of good ol’ maple syrup.

The result: An almost-perfect pancake. Light. Fluffy. Dense. Hearty. A kiss of orange scent. The only ones that missed perfection were the ones where I got distracted for a few seconds and let them sit too long on one side. I found that they took a bit longer than 30 seconds per side to cook up, so I recommend just using your pancake-making know-how to judge when to flip them. They take a smidge longer to cook in the middle than regular pancakes, and the batter tends to spread out even in a super hot skillet, so keeping them small — about 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter each at the MOST — certainly helps.

Next time — and oh yes, my friends, there will be a next time — we’ve agreed to omit the fruit zest entirely, but instead of maple syrup, I’m going to spread mine with a thin frosting of really good orange marmalade. The citrus tang/sweet cornmeal relationship is an interesting foil.

We’ll see how well these babies keep/reheat. I had to bundle them in to the fridge post haste after dinner to keep from endlessly, mindlessly picking them off the plate and scarfing them down. I’m reproducing the recipe for you here, for ease, but without a doubt I urge you to visit Eat, Live, Run for the original recipe, the strawberry sauce, and all the other wonderfulness there to be found. Just a few days ago she spotlighted a recipe for sesame soba noodles — a variation on a another menu plan regular around here, soba noodles with teriyaki sauce and stir-fry veggies (or chicken or shrimp).

Anyway. Without further ado (you can thank me later!):

Orange Zest Cornmeal Pancakes
serves 4, cooks quickly
based on Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes from Eat, Live, Run

3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp cooking oil
butter to grease skillet, or a really fabulous non-stick skillet

Directions:

Whisk the eggs in the bottom of a very large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and oil and whisk until well blended. In a second bowl — I used one of my larger cereal bowls — combine the flour, sugar, cornmeal, zest, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together (I used a fork) then add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix only until just combined.

Butter a super hot skillet as necessary then cook pancakes until you can lift them cleanly and neatly with a spatula. It can take anywhere between 30 seconds to a minute per side, but pay close attention because if you wander off to slice an orange in half, they brown too quickly!

Stack neatly (or not-so-neatly, your preference) on a serving plate and allow diners to butter and syrup their cakes as they desire. I heated up a bag of frozen sliced peaches in the same skillet once the pancakes were all done, since I think the perfect side dish for pancakes is some heated-up fruit. Peaches were an especially lucky choice and good complement for the orange and maple flavors.

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