Sweet Corn Cakes with Cranberry-Orange Syrup

27 Nov
Sweetest corn

Sweetest corn

The Griddler and company had company again this week, this time in the form of one set of grandparents (my wife’s folks, Allen and Shirley). Perhaps the most ringing endorsement for the cakes and syrup was the fact they both walked out of here in one piece on Friday. They may have been ruined from corn for years to come, but they were intact. They either loved the cakes and syrup and sure knew how to make the cook feel good. Either way, The Griddler tips his hat (and apologizes for the post-sugar high hangover later in the day).

They were visiting for Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving brought the potential for some thematic interweaving with the cakes this week. Turkey cakes sounded gross, so I pulled in two other Thanksgiving table staples–corn and cranberries.

These cakes are blasphemy in some ways, seeing as how I’m a born-and-raised Iowan. Really, they would have been perfect a few months back, at the height of sweet corn season, when I could have bought an ear at any number of roadside stands or farmer’s market tables and gone truly local with things. But alas, in sweet corn season my cakes adventure had not yet begun. So canned it was.

The cranberry thing was a bit of a stretch for me. I’m not terribly fond of cranberries in general, and cranberry sauce as a Thanksgiving table offering makes me cringe. But with the help of my old friend, Google, I cobbled together enough disparate parts of various cranberry sauce/syrup recipes to come up with something that, on paper, seemed at least passable, if a little, er, caloric.

In my first pass with the syrup, I actually used pure maple syrup instead of the sugared variety. The result, however, was way too tart, even with the sugar and orange juice–they were no match for the abundant cranberries. I ended up adding sugared maple syrup in anyway, which toned down the tart, though threw the balance off in a way that doesn’t totally reflect what you’d get from the recipe below. Call the one below my best guess for next time. And if you like tart, go with the pure maple and forget all about my mitigation.

All in all, these are probably my favorite so far. Think cornbread, but denser and moister with super sweet/tart topping. I mentioned some crossover potential below, but that’s only a sampling. Make them once, and surely ideas will spring to your own mind. I would love to add some sweet peas into the mix and go with a honey/butter spread on top. Or sub the sugars for some salts and get crazy on the savory side of things. These things may even reemerge at some point down the road in a new form all together (zombie cakes!).

On to it.

Socially acceptable for but one of us

Socially acceptable for but one of us

Pants: Apparently it’s OK for just one of us to go pantless with guests–and that one is at right. But I’m not bitter (damn it!).

Planning: Only planning was making sure enough time had passed between Thursday’s feasting and the morning cakes–had to have some moderation this weekend.

Gathering: Just the fruits.

Execution: The batter was a bit runny after I first mixed it. I added some extra dries (flours and corn meal) in equal parts and mixed until it thickened a little. Even then, the cakes were pretty thin when ladled onto the griddle. This was probably because of the oil in the batter coupled with the fact I used honey instead of sugar. You could adjust either or both of those variables to thicken things.

Results: Excellent! The combination was nice. The cakes themselves came out sweeter than I anticipated, and really could be enjoyed with maybe a brush of honey and nothing else, cornbread style. That being said, this was one of my favorite syrups. My breakfast comrades report their own approval, so I think we can call it a winner, too.

Crossover Potential: So vast. Cutting the sugar and upping the salt would make for some great savory cakes. Visions of avocado and salsa dance in the head.

The cakes recipe:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (organic)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (organic)
  • 1/2 cup corn meal (organic)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1.25 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cup buttermilk (Kalona Supernatural Buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (organic)
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten (cage-free)
  • 1 cup sweet corn, strained (organic, canned)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (organic)
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees, or engage warmer drawer
  2. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees
  3. Whisk dry ingredients together
  4. Whisk wet ingredients in a separate bowl (hold back on corn for now)
  5. Add wet ingredients to dry and and use whisk to mix together
  6. Add corn to batter and mix
  7. Melt butter on griddle
  8. Using 1/3 measuring cup, ladle batter onto griddle; watch for bubbles and flip when they appear, 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown
  9. Keep finished cakes in warmed oven while you prepare the rest
And the syrup recipe:
  • 1.5 cups cranberries (frozen, organic)
  • 3/4 sugar (organic, pure cane)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (juice of 1 Valencia orange, the rest supplemented with organic, no sugar added bottled juice)
  • 1 tsp. orange zest (from the Valencia)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup with sugar (organic)
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and mix well
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to keep sugar from sticking and scorching
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for ~10 minutes, until cranberries pop and the syrup coats the back of a spoon

Note: The syrup was derived from various sources. The cakes were adapted from http://smittenkitchen.com/2010/08/sweet-corn-pancakes/

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One Response to “Sweet Corn Cakes with Cranberry-Orange Syrup”

  1. Amber Cummer November 27, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I concur, these were excellent! The slightly crunchy bites of corn combined with the subtle sweetness topped with the candied cranberry syrup – truly a party in my mouth! A+

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