(Food Styling/Sheryl Julian; Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
September 9, 2009

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Makes about 20 cakes (2 1/2 inches in diameter) or 1 large skillet cake

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than corn on the cob simply steamed and slathered with butter and a little salt. But even perfection, when abundant, can get tiring. That’s when corn kernels can be turned into soup, salsa, succotash, or these cakes, which are a cross between traditional pancakes and corn bread. The cakes, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book “Pancakes,’’ are hearty, but neither heavy nor dry, and the batter takes only minutes to prepare. Cook it in small rounds on a griddle or as one large cake, frittata-style, in a cast-iron pan. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and grilled meats. For a savory Southwestern cake, replace the water and milk with chicken stock, and add 2 tablespoons each of chopped jalapeno peppers and fresh cilantro. You can also substitute cornmeal for the grits and flour. The next time you buy more corn than you can possibly eat, pull out the eggs and milk and turn the kernels into cakes.

3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 cup yellow or white grits
1/4 cup flour
3 eggs
2teaspoons baking powder
3 drops hot sauce
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups corn kernels, from about 2 ears
1 tablespoon butter, plus more as needed
1/2 cup sour cream, for serving (optional)
1. Have on hand a large griddle or nonstick skillet (for small cakes) or a 7- or 8-inch cast-iron pan (for the large cake).

2. In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, and oil to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and use a wooden spoon to gradually beat in the grits and flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the liquid absorbs the dry ingredients and the mixture thickens like polenta. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the baking powder, hot sauce, and salt.

4. Stir the egg mixture into the grits mixture. Fold in the corn kernels.

5. To make cakes: Heat the griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and when it melts, spoon the batter onto the griddle in 1/4-cup mounds. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until golden. Turn and cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and continue cooking cakes with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed. Serve with sour cream, if you like.

6. To make one large corncake: Heat the cast-iron pan over medium heat until hot. Add the butter. Pour in the batter, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the cake is set and the bottom is golden. Place a flat plate directly over the pan and flip the cake out of the pan and onto the plate, bottom side up. Slide the flipped cake back into the pan, tucking in the edges with a rubber spatula. Cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Serve in the skillet, topped with sour cream, if you like. Jill Santopietro