I’ve been doing quite a bit of pancake experimentation lately. I’d rarely made them at home before a few months ago. I never order them at restaurants, with the exception of going to IHOP in high school after water polo practice and choosing them over toast to accompany my omelet. But suddenly, I’ve added yeasted, beer, spelt, banana bread, and now cornmeal varieties to my repertoire.
My dad would sometimes make pancakes on weekend mornings from a faded recipe card. But the thing that stands out most is that he would make a “blanket cake” — a pancake big enough to cover most of a dinner plate — to keep the rest warm while he finished the batch. For all I know, though, it only happened once. It’s a distant memory. I’m sure they were good but they didn’t inspire particular pancake allegiance. I don’t remember seeing my parents or brother eat one in the last ten years.
These simple cornmeal pancakes caught my attention because they don’t contain flour. You pour boiling water over the cornmeal, so it softens and absorbs the water, before adding milk to make a batter. The result is closer to polenta than fluffy pancakes, with a delicate corn flavor and slight crunch.
The strawberries at the grocery store finally turned the requisite shade of red for me to make my first tentative purchase of the year. They were good enough for me to eat quite a few of them straight from the basket as soon as I got home, but not so good that I hesitated to throw the rest in the oven. Roasting the berries with a little honey and vanilla made them soft and jammy, barely holding together in their syrupy juice.
Lemon curd whipped cream is the top contender to become my go-to dessert accompaniment for spring and summer. Light, creamy, with a subtle lemon bite — I could eat it with a spoon.
These pancakes are perfect for a weekend brunch. The combination of sweet cornmeal, strawberries, and lemon tastes like spring. And even though they may look like a serious upgrade to traditional pancakes and maple syrup, they take very little extra time of effort.
You can roast the strawberries in advance or throw them in the oven while you make the pancakes. If you want to make your own lemon curd, which you totally should if you can plan that far ahead, it will need to chill for at least an hour but can be made days in advance. I’ve included the super simple recipe I use below….