Cranberry Corn Cakes

After several months of silence during which I was solicited by our family garden in maintenance and transformation, it’s time to begin anew. New look, new recipes, and forthcoming in the weeks ahead, a new domain name and some new categories to make searching the blog a bit easier.

Since there’s no better way to start the day than with a hearty breakfast, this is a stick-to your ribs sourdough pancake that will get you from breakfast through shoveling the year’s first snow, playing outside with the kids, prepping veggies for dinner and then a load of laundry so there’s clean clothes for the week. Or whatever you choose to do on a Sunday morning.

Being made with cornmeal, I like to leave them overnight in the fridge to soften up the grit some, but you can also throw them together the morning you want to serve by using corn flour instead. Corn flour is a good option if you like less texture in your cakes as well.

The recipe makes quite a few (about 13), so leftovers can be frozen to make quick weekday breakfasts. To freeze, let the corncakes cool completely and then separate them with sheets of wax or parchment paper before placing them in a freezer-safe bag for storage. When you want an instant pancake, pop one into the toaster and you’re good to go.

What you need:

  • 2-1/4 cup sourdough starter
  • 1-1/4 cup organic cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (or barley malt if you want a more pronounced malty-ness)
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened preferred)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda diluted in 1 tablespoon of warm water
  • Coconut oil for the frying pan
  • Maple syrup to serve

What you do:

  1. The night before cooking, in a non-metallic bowl (sourdough is acidic, it doesn’t play well with metal when they’re in contact for long periods), mix together the sourdough, cornmeal, soy milk, brown rice syrup and sunflower oil until smooth.
  2. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  3. In the morning, pre-heat a cast iron frying pan over medium heat until it’s good and hot. Once it’s hot, turn the heat down so that the cakes cook without burning.
  4. While the pan is heating, fold the cranberries into the batter. If it looks too thick (which might be the case if the starter was very thick), then add a bit of water. If it looks too thin, then add a tablespoon of ground flax, mix well and wait about 10 minutes for the batter to thicken.
  5. Prepare the baking soda and water slurry and add it to the batter, folding/mixing (it’ll be about half-way between the two) to distribute evenly.
  6. At this point the batter will start to bubble and rise and the pan had better be ready. Add a bit of oil to the pan for the first pancake and pour a heaping 1/4 cup of batter into the pan, using the back of the cup to ensure an even thickness throughout.
  7. Cook 2-3 minutes, use a thin metal spatula to delicately dislodge the pancake and flip it, and cook the second side for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all the batter is used up, adjusting heat as necessary to ensure even cooking and avoid scorching.
  9. Serve with maple syrup.

A couple of pancake-cooking notes:

  • When working with corn (or oats, or any non-wheat grain), it will tend to stick to the pan a bit more, so having a good spatula is really critical to avoid tearing;
  • Getting the right heat is also important to obtaining a beautifully browned, completely cooked and picture-perfect pancake. I’ve found out that there are degrees between 3 and 4 on my range and they make a huge difference. Take the time to adjust your heat if the pancakes are sticking or take too long, or not long enough, to cook;
  • Some people oil their pans regularly during pancake cooking. I’m in the “add oil before the first and nevermore” school of cast-iron hot-cake cooks. Try both and see what works best for you.

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