*Or, Corn Cubed Pancakes
*Or, You Don’t Need Math to Enjoy These Pancakes
[Unadorned corny goodness, tall and proud.]
I was one of those students who always did pretty well in math even though I didn’t understand most of it. In other words, I was a good memorizer. These days, I rejoice if I can remember what I ate for breakfast, but back then, even multiplication tables didn’t pose a challenge. The more advanced types of computation, however, were a complete mystery to me (which is why I dropped out of Calculus in CEGEP. Yes, I altered my entire career path, from Psychology to English Literature, based solely on my fear of statistics).
These days, the “new math” leaves me both breathless and hyperventilating (sometimes simultaneously). My friend Babe’s eleven year-old daughter conducts problems in long division using a multi-step process that involves drawing little lines, circles and boxes, seemingly much more complicated than the old-fashioned dividend/divisor (with remainders) method I learned in school. And even with all these new approaches, when the computer is down at our local video store, the cashier still has no idea how to make change for a cash purchase.
It’s times like those (when I can’t rent Bridesmaids, dammit) that I wish everyone could have a teacher like my eighth-grade functions instructor, Mrs. Klein. Well, that was her actual name, but we all affectionately called her Mrs. Clown. (No, she didn’t have a bulbous red nose and electro-shock hairstyle–though her hair was suspiciously white–but she did offer boundless energy, sweeping arm gestures, and a hilarious delivery that made us guffaw–at functions!).
[Topped with some Fresh Plum Sauce]
Unlike most math teachers, Mrs. Clown actually made learning about algorithms, formulas, cosines and exponents fun. When she wrote an equation on the board and asked for volunteers to come up and solve it in front of the class, everyone’s hand shot up. When she explained images and sets, we sat entranced, as she peppered her explanation with anecdotes about her husband fixing the car engine over the weekend, or compared variables in a math problem to specific student personalities in the class. We students never sat through a single period in which we didn’t laugh out loud at least once or twice (and how many people can say that about their math class?). When the bell rang, we were genuinely surprised that the hour was up.
Mrs. Clown wrote notes on the board in huge, clear, print so that everyone–even spectacle-clad Norman at the back–could see it clearly; and she provided tips and tricks to ensure that we’d remember the rules. One of her favorite ways to point out a potential problem in a formula was by writing the word “SNAG” in all-caps and enclosing it in a box outline, like this:
When we spied those “SNAG” boxes, we knew we were in for an extra-lengthy anecdote. In fact, we’d sometimes deliberately attempt to create a “SNAG” situation in one of her problems, just so we could listen to another story about Mr. Clown.
Last week, when the HH and I received an organic cob of corn in our CSA, I decided to mix up these pancakes as an antidote to the overly greasy, heavy griddle cakes I ate a few weeks ago in New York City. I’d been thinking about corn pancakes since then, and when I spied this recipe on Jess’s blog, I knew I had to give it a try. Using her recipe as a template, I added two more types of corn (two corn “variables,” you might say) and was delighted with the results. And while the pancakes themselves were delectable, they introduced a mathematical conundrum of their own: what to call them? Are they “triple corn” pancakes? Or, perhaps, “corn cubed pancakes”? Sadly, I never truly mastered exponents despite Mrs. Clown’s tutelage, so that’s one formula that shall remain unsolved.
Whatever you call them, they were fantastic. The HH proclaimed these “the best pancakes you’ve made yet.” They’re incredibly fluffy, with a cakelike interior punctuated by a smattering of plump corn kernels (and do feel free to substitute blueberries if you prefer) and a subtle texture from the cornmeal. I had never used corn flour before and found it imparted a lovely, delicate crumb and mild flavor.
Next time you’re in the mood for pancakes, go ahead and have a couple of these, or three. Okay, maybe not, since five is a lot of pancakes. Oh, wait–SNAG–two PLUS three is five, not two OR three; I shouldn’t have added the numbers but rather divided the total batch of 12 into the single divisor of each serving instead (or was that “mulitply each serving”?). . . . which would have ultimately made a total of 1746 calories per batch, which works out to how many per person?
Whatever. The only equation you need to remember is: pancakes + topping = delicious.
[Inside that corny goodness.]
Triple Corn Pancakes (Inspired by Cupcakes and Kale)
Perfect for a lazy Sunday brunch or a light dinner, these pancakes are airy and just barely sweet on their own. If you have fresh corn kernels, this is a great place to use them, but frozen will do nicely, too. Note that most conventional corn these days is genetically modified, so organic is a much better choice if you can get it.
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened soy, almond or coconut milk (from a carton)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 tsp (10 ml) extra virgin olive or avocado oil, preferably organic
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
5 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen corn kernels (preferably organic)
1 cup (130 g) organic corn flour (preferably organic)
1/4 cup (60 ml) organic cornmeal (preferably organic)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) xanthan gum
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the milk, vinegar, oil, vanilla and stevia. Stir in the lemon zest and corn kernels and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just to blend (do not overmix–it’s okay if there are a few dry spots here and there).
Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into the pan, spreading the pancakes slightly with a silicone spatula or back of a spoon.
Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the pancakes begin to rise and puff up and the tops look almost completely dry (the bottom should be lightly browned). Gently flip the pancakes and cook another 3-4 minutes. Keep the prepared pancakes warm as you continue to use all the batter in this way. Makes 6-8 pancakes. May be frozen.
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