Cornmeal, ground from dried maize, comes in more than a few varieties; to start with, there's fine, medium and coarse consistencies. Medium grinds are fine in most baked goods, though finely ground is best for delicate pastries such as cakes. Finely ground cornmeal is also called cornflour in the States, though in the UK cornflour refers to cornstarch. Coarsely ground cornmeal gives baked goods more texture and crunch, which may or may not be desirable.
You may also see cornmeal labeled "steel ground" or "stone ground," or "old fashioned." Steel ground cornmeal, particularly common in the US, has the hull and germ of the maize kernel mostly removed, and stays good almost indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry location. Meanwhile, stone ground (aka "old fashioned") cornmeal retains some of the hull and germ, giving it more nutrition and flavor. However, it also has a shorter shelf life, which can be extended by refrigerating or even freezing the cornmeal.
To top it off, cornmeal comes in three different colors: yellow, white, and blue. Yellow cornmeal is standard in baked goods and polenta for most of the world. African dishes and many cornbread and pancake recipes from the Southern US use white cornmeal. Blue cornmeal can be used for a more exiting color, nutritional benefits, and a stronger flavor.
Yellow cornmeal in this recipe gives these pancakes an appealing golden hue, but feel free to experiment with different types of cornmeal. In place of eggs, I grind golden flaxseed— normal flaxseed would make healthfood-looking brown flecks in the pancakes—and whisk with water.
The cornmeal in these fluffy, delicious pancakes pairs especially well with blueberries, blackberries, or orange. When I made these pancakes today for a Saturday-morning brunch I heated some maple syrup with frozen blackberries for an instant, delicious blackberry compote. Adding some orange zest wouldn't have hurt anything either. If you want to keep the pancakes warm, preheat the oven to 200F, and stack them on a plate until ready.
- If you don't have brown rice flour or arrowroot, substitute both with 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour.
- Classic Pancakes (gluten-free): Instead of the cornmeal, add 1 cup of brown rice flour (so the total quantity is 1.5 cups) and add 1 cup of of millet or sorghum flour. Omit the lemon zest.
- These pancake recipes also work for making waffles.
Total time: 20 minutes
2 cups non-dairy milk
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and zest of 1-2 lemons
2 tablespoons ground golden flaxseed
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
2 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal or corn flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut or sunflower oil, plus more for greasing the griddle
Whisk together the milk, lemon juice, ground flax, and arrowroot for a few minutes, until slightly thickened, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, syrup, and oil to the wet ingredients.
Oil a large frying pan or griddle and heat to medium-high (350-375F). Add the wet ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and mix until lumps are eliminated (in most pancake recipes you barely stir the batter for fear of tough pancakes caused by gluten formation, but this isn't a problem in gluten-free recipes for obvious reasons).
Once the griddle is hot, scoop or pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook for a couple minutes, until browned, then flip and cook another minute. Serve immediately. Top with fresh berries, maple syrup, blueberry jam, and/or a compote.