These cornbread pancakes are my new favorite pancakes. They are so good, I dare you to try them and not come to the same conclusion. Even better, while they feel like something you'd whip up on a special occasion, they're super simple to make — as easy as regular ol' pancakes.
Modern Honky Tonk Pancakes from Louisville, Kentucky
I discovered these pancakes at Louisville's Silver Dollar, a modern honky tonk in Clifton (just east of downtown) in a former fire station. Despite its Kentucky location, the menu is part Southern, part Southern Californian, with some Tex-Mex thrown in for good measure. In other words, it's just the kind of food you want for brunch after you've been up late sampling the town's number-one attraction: bourbon. (Although, it's worth noting: If you're after bourbon, Silver Dollar has an impressive list.)
My friends and I ordered, it seemed, the entire menu, starting with a stack of cornbread pancakes for the table (pancakes are never a bad idea), plus huevos rancheros, shrimp and grits, and chili cheese hash browns.
When the food arrived, the table got very, very quiet. The flapjacks were as large as the plate and at least a half-inch thick (each). They are the kind of pancakes that inspire the same sort of wide-eyed, leg-twisting awe that I recall as a single-digit human being — and that's before I even tried them.
I slathered them with butter, added a good smear of pink peppercorn-strawberry compote, and poured a healthy glug of maple syrup on top and then tucked in. They were every bit as good as I had hoped — sweet and savory, substantial, but still fluffy, simple and yet sophisticated. I loved them so much I came back the next day for more and I'd even go so far as to say they were the best thing I ate in Louisville!
This recipe is inspired by those pancakes and scaled down for your home kitchen. They are sweet and savory and special indeed — although, as noted above, they really don't require any extra ingredients. You almost certainly have cornmeal in your pantry — and if you don't, it's easy enough to pick up some on your next big shop.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Tonight feels like a very good night for breakfast-for-dinner pancakes.
Cornbread Pancakes with Strawberry Compote
For the compote:
3 cups stemmed and quartered strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon whole pink peppercorns (optional)
For the pancakes:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large egg yolks
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Butter or neutral oil, for cooking
Make the compote: Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and pink peppercorns if using in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have released much of their liquid, and the liquid is syrupy and fragrant, about 15 minutes.
Make the pancakes: Fit a wire rack inside a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and heat to 200°F.
Whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a large bowl; set aside.
Place the buttermilk, milk, and egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and whisk to combine. Pour over the flour mixture and stir gently just until you no longer see any dry flour; set aside.
Place the egg whites in a small bowl and whisk until foamy and doubled in volume. Fold the egg whites into the batter and stir until you no longer see any streaks of whites. Let the batter rest until thickened and slightly foamy, at least 5 minutes or up to 1 hour.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil or pat of butter in a large nonstick frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until the butter foams but doesn't brown or the oil shimmers. Using a 1/2-cup measure, drop the pancake batter into the skillet. The batter should spread to about 6 inches wide.
Watch for bubbles to start forming on the surface of the pancake. Cook until the bubbles burst, the edges of the pancake look set, and the bottom is golden-brown, about 2 1/2 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed if it seems like the pancakes are cooking too quickly or slowly. Flip the pancake and cook until the second side is golden-brown, about 2 1/2 minutes more.
Transfer to the rack in the oven and repeat cooking the remaining batter. Serve with more butter and the strawberry compote.
- Make ahead: The strawberry compote can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.