Buttermilk Cornmeal Cakes with Drunken Berry Syrup

1 Jan
Gloriously Boozy Syrup

Gloriously Boozy Syrup

Ahhh…2012. Feels like a good year already. We skipped champagne last night, so I used the bottle we had around for the cakes this morning. It’s a boozy holiday, after all. It seemed right.

And let me tell you, there’s something so Rat Pack about cracking a bottle of champagne at 7:30 in the morning. Or perhaps it’s more Lindsay Lohan. Either way, it was kind of fun, and I may have had a nip or three as I cooked. Those bubbles don’t stay bubbly for long, after all, and I only needed a cup for my syrup. There are starving college kids just blocks from where I live who would give (nay, have given) anything for a half-drunk bottle of champagne. It would be untoward to waste it.

The cakes are a bit of an odd recipe. I had read somewhere once about putting whipped cream in a corn cake, but can’t remember where that was. I stocked it away mentally and tried it here. It turned out really well, too. The creamy texture comes across in the final product, and that hint of extra sweetness is a nice complement to the syrup. And really, the syrup was the star of the show.

Thinking...

Thinking...

There was a much more extravagant recipe I had read about once that included champagne instead of water for syrup. I went with a more bare bones version of that, keeping my ingredients few and going with my gut on proportions. In the end, I probably would have gone with less sugar and perhaps more berries, but that would just be rounding the edges. This was damn good. But be warned, you do get more than a hint of the boozy flavor of the champagne, so you have to be okay with that to really enjoy it. My wife did not. She appreciated it, but didn’t have more than a taste. So it goes.

One thing that might be interesting would be marinating the berries in the champagne instead of cooking with it. Or perhaps you could try both. I know that every time I bit into an intact blueberry, I realized quickly how delicious champagne-infused fruit can be.

Pants: It has been a reclusive couple of days, so let’s just say the legs have gotten an extended dose of fresh air for both the boy and me.

Planning: Not too much, except just thinking through how I wanted to mix these different items.

Gathering: Everything was already in the house, which was great.

Execution: A bit laborious, but it was all worth it. The batter consistency wasn’t to my liking at first pass (a bit runny), so I added in a little more flour, cornmeal, and sugar in quantities proportionate to their original ratios until it thickened. It worked well.

...score!

...score!

Results: Terrific. My wife wasn’t wild about the syrup, but again, I kind of expected that. They were a bit boozy with the drunken berries, but that was exactly what I was after. It turned out better than I had imagined. The cakes were a hit all around, and the leftovers we kept will no doubt come in handy.

Crossover Potential: Obviously,  going the savory route with corn cakes is always tempting. You could skip the whipped cream, and sub out syrup for salsa, guac, and/or sour cream. You might also add some honey to the batter and go the cornbread route with the whole thing.

The cakes recipe:

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal (organic)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (organic)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (organic, pure cane)
  • 1.5 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter (organic, unsalted)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten (cage-free)
  • *1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup whipped cream
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees, or engage warmer drawer
  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix with large wooden spoon
  3. Combine wet ingredients in separate bowl and mix well
  4. Add wets to dries and combine until just mixed
  5. Preheat griddle to 350 degrees
  6. Butter griddle, and ladle batter onto it using 1/3 measuring cup; keep completed cakes warm in oven while preparing the rest
And the syrup recipe:
  • 2 cups blueberries (frozen, organic)
  • Less than 1/4 cup cranberries (frozen, organic)
  • 1.25 cups champagne (whatever your poison)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (organic, pure cane)
  • 1 tsp. orange extract
  1. Combine all ingredients except orange extract in medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium/high heat
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and let reduce by half, or to desired thickness (at least until the mixture coats the back of a spoon
  3. Kill the heat and add the tsp. of orange extract, mixing in
  4. Refrigerate and reheat later, or serve straight from the pan
*I was out of buttermilk, and nothing was open on New Year’s morning. I had read sometime back about mixing your own buttermilk in a pinch, and I gave it a whirl. I dropped 1.5 Tbsp. of lemon juice in the bottom of a large measuring cup, and then added whole milk until it reach the 1.5 cup line. Then, I let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and zingo–buttermilk substitute. It worked well.
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One Response to “Buttermilk Cornmeal Cakes with Drunken Berry Syrup”

  1. Amber Cummer January 4, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Loved the cakes! I enjoyed mine with fresh raspberries and maple syrup. I passed on the champagne syrup, indeed not my flavor. But these cakes were special!

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