Before I started moving all over the world I never knew there were different types of cornmeal. Cornmeal was what came in the cardboard Quaker can, was yellow and gritty, and I used it to make cornbread whenever I made chili. Do I sound midwestern yet? Good.
Fast forward to when I moved to Scotland and went in search of cornmeal. Let me just mention here that at the Waitrose grocery in Scotland, the store employees were the nicest, most helpful people I have ever encountered at a grocery store. They took their jobs very seriously, always dressing in professional uniforms and asking if anyone needed assistance as well as seeking out items for customers that were not on the shelf. Sort of like business professional versions of Trader Joe’s extremely helpful employees. I asked one of these nice young men where I might find some cornmeal, and I still remember the look of confusion on his face. “Cornmeal?” he asked me. I nodded and waited, and after a moment he led me over to the baking aisle and very proudly pulled out a tiny canister that said “Corn Flour” on the front. I was confused, but bought it anyway, and when I got home and opened it…cornstarch.
After two years with no cornbread (I never did find the right cornmeal in Scotland) I moved to North Carolina – there definitely had to be cornmeal here! It’s the South, everyone eats cornbread! Here I go shopping to Whole Foods bulk bins, find the bin labeled “Cornmeal” and it’s…not cornmeal. It’s corn flour. But not Scottish corn flour. Do you see how confusing this is getting? I might need a flowchart. That’s the retired tax accountant in me. Then, a little further down the line, I see what looks like my cornmeal. Only it’s labeled “Grits”. Now I am thoroughly confused, so I go home to sort this out. Turns out in the South, cornmeal is grits and cornflour is cornmeal. So I ask my husband if I have to do research every time I see a recipe that calls for corn-something as to where the author might live. Let’s just say it is one of the more confusing ingredient problems I have ever come across.
Since I am living in North Carolina now I decided to embrace the corn labeling here and start calling corn flour cornmeal. Don’t even ask me where polenta fits in here. Can’t we all just come together and decide on a proper name placement for this one humble vegetable? I was at my local farmers market this past weekend and there was the nicest man from Bost Grist Mill selling his freshly ground cornmeal and grits. He sold me a bag of yellow cornflour and it is the finest ground corn-whatever I have ever tasted. I knew it had to go into pancakes and I was so pleased with the result. So while I am working on my corn from around the world flowchart, you can try these pancakes for yourself.
- ½ cup yellow cornflour (it should be smooth, like wheat flour, not coarse and gritty)
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup spelt flour
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Grating of fresh nutmeg (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil (no need to melt)
- 1¾ cups unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large banana
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- In a large bowl, whisk all dry ingredients together.
- In a blender, add all wet ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined. You could also do this in a small bowl with a fork but I think the blender is much quicker and then you will not have any banana chunks in your pancakes (very important for small skeptical mouths).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until combined. Let sit a few minutes and if you need to thin the batter, add another splash of almond milk. The batter should be a bit runny.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt some butter or coconut oil on the pan. When it is sizzling, pour ¼ cup ladles of batter into pan. Let cook about 1-2 minutes, or until surface is bubbling. Flip, let cook an additional minute. Serve warm with butter and pure maple syrup (not artificial pancake syrup, I beg you!).
- Note: If you do not have the pumpkin puree in your cupboard, you can substitute another small banana for this.
Note: Don’t be scared of the flour mixture here! If you keep a few flours in your pantry, like I do, it is so easy to open the cupboard door, take a half-cup measuring cup, and go down the line, scoop, scoop, scoop into the bowl. I always keep buckwheat and spelt flour front and center in my baking cabinet, I use them all the time. Don’t have one of these? You can substitute all-purpose flour instead, but you will lose some of the flavor here. I really encourage you to expand your flour selection, however, pancakes are a great way to get different grains into kids!