Cornmeal Pancakes and a Cookbook Winner

When I returned from Canada two weeks ago I brought some precious saskatoon berries home with me.  The other important cargo was sour cherries, picked by my berry-foraging cousin, and presented with a request for a recipe for sour cherry syrup.  I made the syrup with a combination of cherries and saskatoons (there was a cup leftover from the pie-baking); but it could easily be an all cherry or berry syrup.  In fact, the recipe is based on one for blueberry syrup, so I feel it is adaptable to what is seasonal and plentiful.  What else goes well with cherry syrup?  I’ve used mine with my breakfast yogurt and fruit, and stirred into a tall glass of icy soda water for a refreshing summer drink.  It would be nice mixed into a fruit smoothie, or drizzled over ice cream.  But the hands-down favorite is these sweet cornmeal pancakes.  Quick to mix together, they have a little crunch from the cornmeal and a delicate texture that’s just perfect with the cherry syrup.
**Thank you to all the readers who commented on my first blogiversary post and left such kind and encouraging words.  I put your names in a hat, chose randomly, and the winner is:  Ana, of   I will be sending Ana a copy of Sophie Dahl’s book :  Very Fond of Food:  A Year in Recipes. 

Sweet Cornmeal Pancakes
(makes about 10 4inch pancakes)
1/3 cup fine, stone-ground cornmeal
2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Nonstick spray
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  Measure the 1 cup buttermilk into a 2-cup measure.  Add the eggs, and beat gently with a fork until thoroughly combined.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Pour the buttermilk mixture, along with the melted butter, into the dry ingredients.  Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, stir from the bottom of the bowl until the dry ingredients are all moistened.  There may be a few lumps, but that is okay.  Place a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Spray it lightly with non-stick spray and add a little butter, if you like.   Scoop the batter with a 1/4 cup measure and pour onto the hot pan.  Cook the pancakes until the tops are bubbly and the bottoms are golden brown.  Turn and finish cooking for 2-3 minutes.   Serve immediately with sour cherry syrup or the topping of your choice.
(adapted from “Sunlight Cafe” by Mollie Katzen)


Sour Cherry Syrup
(makes about 4 cups)
5 cups sour cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved (or blueberries or a combination of summer berries)
3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, washed
Peel 3 or 4 strips of zest from the lemon, taking care not to include the white pith.  Juice the lemon and set both the zest and juice aside.  Place the cherries and 1 cup water in a heavy pot.  (If you are using berries, crush them lightly with a potato masher).  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain the juice through a fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing lightly on the solids to extract as much juice as possible.  Set the juice aside.  In a clean saucepan, mix the remaining 2 cups of water, the sugar, and the lemon zest.  Bring to a boil and boil for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 225F.  Add the reserved cherry (berry) juice and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.  Boil for another minute or two.  Remove the pieces of lemon zest, cool the syrup, and store in a clean container or jar in the refrigerator for up to three months.
(from a recipe for blueberry syrup at

One Year Ago:  Salade Nicoise


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