Cornmeal Red Currant Pancakes with Red Currant Syrup

As I’ve mentioned before, things tend to get a little nutso during the summer months; however, I find that as long as we maintain a few constants from day to day, we get through the crazies just fine and enjoy each day to it’s full potential.

It shouldn’t surprise you that pancakes are one of those constants. I declared them good mothering material long ago, disguised them as baby food, and dressed them up as dessert; yep, we are pancake aficionados around here. We like them so much, I’ve even considered devoting another blog entirely to pancakes, but I’d rather spend my time flipping them and eating them alongside my boys.

This last batch of pancakes was inspired from an outing to my friend Jamie’s red currant patch. She graciously invited me to come raid her backyard/Garden of Eden, which I was happy to do. Her bushes was laden with ripe berries and I picked about ten pints in under an hour. I have to say, I’m pretty happy in a berry patch; I’d rather be getting my hands stained and my back sore than watching TV or getting a manicure (like that ever happens). I picked a lot of berries as a kid, so guess it brings back fond memories.
The best part though?Jamie offered me one of her red currant bushes, so next year I’ll have my own stash. Sweeet. Thanks, Jamie!

That evening after berry picking, I stewed up some of the crimson red currants with a splash of red wine and spices to make a killer syrup. The next morning the only logical route was pancakes, ideal Saturday morning fare.

We were scheduled to go out for a brunch later, but anyone with young children knows that brunch is usually lunch, and we needed something to tide us over until then. Fortunately I had spotted a recipe for Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes in Martha Stewart Living (June 2009 issue) and they proved to be the perfect platform for my red currants.

The tart red currant sauce from the night before was just exquisite with the cornmeal pancakes. There’s no way this is getting past your palate unnoticed, no matter how groggy you are or how engrossing the comics are; a real sit-up-and-take-notice breakfast!

We’re crazy about anything with cornmeal or polenta and these pancakes are a keeper. The cornmeal gave them a lovely texture and rescued them from being too pasty, as I find some buttermilk pancakes tend to be.
Of course you can substitute whatever berries you happen to have on hand, or none at all.

Later that afternoon upon returning from brunch, I found myself with a couple of quiet hours while the babies napped, and I turned the rest of the red currants into nine jars of ruby red jelly. It was my first canning of the season. Hurray!

Cornmeal Red Currant Pancakes

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes (MSL June 2009)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar, divided in half

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp. coarse salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1/4 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted & cooled

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup fresh red currants

Red Currant Syrup (recipe below)

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt and baking soda.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, milk, butter and egg.

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined (mixture will be lumpy).

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (for keeping pancakes warm). Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Toss red currants with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Brush griddle with melted butter.

Spoon batter onto griddle 1/3 cup at a time. Sprinkle with sugared berries, about 2 tablespoons per pancake. Cook until edges are set, 3 to 4 minutes (bubbles won’t appear as with traditional pancakes). Flip, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter and currants, adding more butter to griddle and keeping prepared pancakes warm on a baking sheet in the oven.

Serve with Ruby-Red Currant Syrup

I can see myself stewing up another big batch of this tangy sauce and serving it with roast pork or turkey, or just dousing a bowl of vanilla ice cream. It’s superb.

Ruby-Red Currant Syrup

2 cups red currants, rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine (0r water)
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon OR 1 whole star anise

Combine everything in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat ad simmer gently for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Berries will disintegrate and mixture should reduce and thicken slightly.
Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve.
Cool slightly and serve with pancakes.