Culinary authority Ghillie James' new book, Amazing Grains, is full of sweet and savory recipes for any meal of the day. Learning how to work with a variety of grains — and there are a lot — will expand your cooking repertoire without breaking the bank. Try adding crunchy cornmeal to your morning pancakes for a flavor and texture boost.
These simple cornmeal breakfast pancakes are known in the U.S. as "johnnycakes." Apparently the settlers of New England were taught by the local Pawtuxet Indians how to grind and use corn for eating. In our house they’ve been re-christened “Wilbo cakes” as my son’s favorite job at the weekend is to whisk up the pancake batter. They are healthier and far tastier than the usual American pancake as they contain whole corn, ground, but if you don’t like the grittiness then you can use a finer-ground corn or just use 1/2 cup extra flour and omit the corn.
Many recipes use buttermilk, but as I wanted these to be an easy “go to” recipe, I have just added vinegar to the milk, which will do the same job. Note that there are small variations in the ingredients for the sweet and savory versions. If making sweet pancakes, top with some melted butter and maple syrup. For the savory version, add some crispy bacon.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons fine or medium cornmeal or polenta
- 1/2 cup self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of sea salt flakes for sweet, or 1/2 teaspoon for savory pancakes
- 3 tablespoons sugar (sweet pancakes only)
- 2 free-range eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for frying
- In a bowl, stir the vinegar into the milk and leave for 5 minutes on the worktop. Then add the cornmeal and leave to rest in the fridge for a further 25 minutes.
- Sieve the flour and baking soda into a large bowl and add the salt and the sugar, if using.
- Whisk the eggs and melted butter thoroughly into the cornmeal mixture, then make a well in the flour and pour in the cornmeal mixture. Whisk together. You must then use the mixture immediately.
- Melt some more butter in a nonstick frying pan and add 2 teaspoonfuls of the batter per pancake.
- Cook over low-medium heat until small air bubbles appear on the surface of the pancakes and then flip over.
- Cook until both sides are golden, then keep warm in a low oven while you cook the rest.
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