Fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes

From Cook's Country | June/July 2012

Why this recipe works:

Getting the height and lightness of traditional pancakes with the more robust flavor and texture of cornmeal pancakes is tougher than it seems. Coarsely ground cornmeal can be sandy, and lacks the gluten necessary to support a fluffy internal structure. We found that we could use more cornmeal… read more

Getting the height and lightness of traditional pancakes with the more robust flavor and texture of cornmeal pancakes is tougher than it seems. Coarsely ground cornmeal can be sandy, and lacks the gluten necessary to support a fluffy internal structure. We found that we could use more cornmeal without getting too much grit by heating it with some of the buttermilk to soften it. Soaking the cornmeal also thickened the batter, helping it ride higher in the pan instead of spreading out. Letting the batter sit for a few minutes before griddling the cakes allowed the buttermilk to react with the baking soda, making the batter foamy, which resulted in fluffier, airier pancakes.

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Fluffy Cornmeal Pancakes

Could we figure out how to pack cornmeal into our pancakes without weighing them down?

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Makes about 15 (4-inch) pancakes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack inside rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. Whisk 1¼ cups buttermilk and cornmeal together in medium bowl. Stir in butter, cover, and microwave until slightly thickened around edges, 60 to 90 seconds, stirring once halfway through cooking. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

    2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Beat eggs and remaining ½ cup buttermilk together in 1-cup liquid measuring cup. Whisk egg mixture into cornmeal mixture. Whisk cornmeal mixture into flour mixture. Let sit for 10 minutes.

    3. Heat ½ teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until shimmering. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out oil, leaving thin film on bottom of pan. Using level ¼-cup measure, scoop 3 pancakes into pan. Cook until edges are set and bubbles begin to form on tops of pancakes, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip, then cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to prepared baking sheet in oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and repeat with remaining oil and batter. Serve.

The Virtues of Pancake Patience

For the fluffiest pancakes, let the finished batter sit for 10 minutes before griddling the cakes. The rest gives the baking soda extra time to react and form large air bubbles, lightening the batter, ergo the pancakes. With a hearty whole grain like cornmeal, you want all the lift you can get. This trick works with any pancake batter made with whole grains. 

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