The cornmeal griddle cake is a heritage recipe so steeped in Nostalgia that many people assume it is a creation of their family or small town, but like so many old-school recipes, the origins are cloudy at best. The term “griddle cake” is nearly synonymous with pancakes, flapjacks, and hotcakes. A cornmeal griddle cake is a pancake made with cornmeal, and the end result is hearty without being heavy. While I usually appreciate a good deal of maple syrup on my pancakes, I tend to load up my cornmeal cakes with heaps of fresh butter. It’s like a fresh, hot, buttery, flat, crunchy corn muffin.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
Bring 1½ cups water to a boil. Place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Stirring continuously, slowly pour the boiling water over the cornmeal. Keep stirring until the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, almost room temperature. Add the brown sugar and stir until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until pale yellow. Add the buttermilk and whisk until blended. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, to the cornmeal in three parts (beginning and ending with the flour mixture), stirring after each addition until just combined. Stir in the melted butter.
Heat a skillet or griddle pan over medium-low heat.
Add 1 or 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and make sure it coats the surface. (Note: The first cornmeal griddle cake soaks up a fair amount of the butter and generally speaking, will not be your best handiwork. However, the subsequent griddle cakes will be a thing of beauty.) Drop griddle cakes in ¼-cup batches into the skillet (they will spread—do not crowd the pan). Cook until the bottoms are medium-brown, about 3 minutes, and the tops are bubbly, then flip the griddle cakes over and cook the other side for about 2 minutes and serve immediately. Continue cooking and serving until all the batter is gone. Serve with generous amounts of sweet butter.
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