Sometimes, on a weekend (and I’m sure you all can relate), I am inspired to make fancy breakfast. Some might even call it brunch. However, rarely am I moved to plan ahead for these occasions and even more rarely do I want to do any actual grocery shopping when the mood for fancy breakfast/brunch arises. So, I make do with what we have, which on one particular morning led me here – to Cheesy Cornmeal Pancakes inspired by a recipe from the blog Shutterbean by Tracy Benjamin, and a very improvised thing we’re calling a Balsamic Fruit “Crumble.”
This is an adaptation of Tracy’s pancakes, as I did not have many of the things that were supposed to go in the originals, called Cheddar Chive Cornmeal Pancakes. Most importantly, I did not have cheddar or chives. So Cheesy Cornmeal Pancakes it was, made with the Mexican cheese blend that happened to be sitting in my fridge. I know a recipe is good when I can improvise with it, as cooking improvisation is generally not where my skills lie.
Anyway, pancakes. You mix up your dry stuff, add your wet stuff, and then you have…ta da, batter! You let that stand for a bit (she says 1-3 hours, I probably did maybe an hour if I was lucky – I’m impatient). Meanwhile, you can cook up bacon to make a crumbly topping AND THEN you can leave the grease in the pan and use that pan to cook your pancakes. Or, you know, butter. Whatever floats your boat.
I also used the pancake-mix-sitting hour to mix up the aforementioned Balsamic Fruit “Crumble,” as I was concerned the pancakes would not satisfy my love of breakfast-time sweetness and hence felt the need to supplement with what is essentially dessert.
As you can see above, this “crumble” consisted of me throwing a bunch of frozen berries and some peaches into a pan and cooking them down, baking a topping (just flour, sugar, salt, and butter), and whipping some heavy cream we happened to have on hand. I also threw some balsamic vinegar into the fruit, which gave it a nice tang.
Pancakes were cooked, bacon was crumbled, syrup was drizzled, “crumbles” were layered, and breakfast was served! We even had fancy maple syrup due to these lovely people’s wedding shower. In summary: Make fancy breakfast. It might take a bit longer, but weekends are worth it.
Cheesy Cornmeal Pancakes
Adapted from Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean
Despite my alternations to the original recipe, these turned out very very yummy, especially with the maple syrup and bacon topping. Feel free to play around a bit as you please – I bet bacon crumbles would be good mixed into the batter as well!
Yield: 6-8 Pancakes
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup plain seltzer
1/4 cup plain sour cream
3/4 cup shredded cheese
2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter or bacon fat, for brushing skillet
Crumbled cooked bacon, for topping
Maple syrup, for topping
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt and pepper. Add the seltzer and sour cream and whisk thoroughly to combine. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Stir in the cheese.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water on the skillet sizzles and evaporates. Coat the skillet generously with melted butter (or use the bacon fat from cooking the bacon if you’ve got it, I did!). Cook a test pancake to gauge the heat, using about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Cook the pancakes in batches until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side, brushing the skillet generously with butter or bacon fat between each batch.
To serve, sprinkle with the crumbled bacon and drizzle with maple syrup. Serve hot.