Cornmeal for corn cakes?

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Cornmeal for corn cakes?

1Sovay
Apr 17, 2020, 4:36pm

Browsing through The Nero Wolfe Cookbook recently I decided I should try corn cakes - as far as I can tell from the books they should be a good accompaniment to pretty much anything. However the only cornmeal I have is polenta. Will this work, does anyone know? I have a sneaking feeling that it's too coarse ...

2Lyndatrue
Apr 17, 2020, 8:09pm

Polenta is not really the same as proper corn meal. I wouldn't use it to make good honest cornbread, and I suspect that's what the corn cakes actually are.

3Sovay
Apr 19, 2020, 3:49pm

>2 Lyndatrue: As I feared, the corn cakes are probably going to have to wait until I can get finer cornmeal. They're not cornbread though - more like drop scones or US pancakes.

4MarthaJeanne
Modificato: Apr 19, 2020, 4:09pm

I had a cornmeal pancake recipe that started by rubbing the cornmeal with the butter. They were wonderful, but I have misplaced the cookbook. They had lovely texture, but I always used flour, nothing coarser.

5lesmel
Apr 19, 2020, 11:15pm

>1 Sovay: What kind of grind is your corn meal? Is it sandy in texture or more like couscous? If it is sandy, you could probably pull it off. If it is couscous-like, probably not unless you could pulse it in a food processor or coffee grinder (although the coffee grinder may never be the same again).

6MarthaJeanne
Apr 20, 2020, 1:18am

Probably wouldn't hurt the coffee grinder, but the corn cakes might taste coffeeish. Food processor probably wouldn't do much.

7Sovay
Apr 20, 2020, 2:27am

>5 lesmel: It's more sandy than couscousy, but the recipe doesn't allow long for it to absorb the liquid so I suspect the resulting cakes would be a bit gritty in texture.

>6 MarthaJeanne: I considered the food processor but came to the same conclusion - it would throw the polenta around but not grind it any finer.

8Sovay
Apr 20, 2020, 3:25pm

The wholefood shop round the corner from the market is still open (didn't think it would be as it's a tiny shop - room for 1 customer at a time under current conditions) and sells maize flour, so I have made the corn cakes!

The batter was lumpy to start with and it took some serious whisking to smooth it out, which I think was due to mixing in the egg and melted butter, as per the recipe, before adding the milk - I suspect that it would be easier to blend in the milk first.

I liked the corn cakes a lot, which is just as well since I now have quite a bit of maize flour to use up. I made the variation without celery and without dried sage (my least favourite herb) but with a cheese and tomato sauce. The sauce tasted great but was very heavy, even though I lightened it by substituting milk for half the cream, and the consistency was so thick that I decided not to add egg yolks. Next time I'll try an Italian-style tomato sauce or maybe a salsa.

The recipe also suggests honey as an accompaniment to the cakes, which definitely sounds worth trying. Possibly with a few blueberries on the side.

9lilithcat
Apr 20, 2020, 4:01pm

The batter was lumpy to start with

That is the way cornbread/muffin/cakes batter is supposed to look. You don't want it to be smooth.

10Sovay
Apr 21, 2020, 2:18am

>9 lilithcat: Interesting - the recipe had nothing to say about consistency so I assumed it should be smooth - though in fact the cakes in question are not oven-baked cornbread/muffins but but a kind of pancake, which may make a difference.

11lilithcat
Apr 21, 2020, 9:27am

>10 Sovay:

Yes, it definitely might. So how did they turn out? I think that's what really answers the question!

There used to be a restaurant near me, much missed, that always brought you a plate of johnny cakes (another name for corn cakes) as a starter.

12Sovay
Apr 21, 2020, 10:17am

>11 lilithcat: They were excellent - I shall be making more! Mine would have made quite a substantial starter though; I had them as a main course with the cheese and tomato sauce as mentioned above and a green salad, and certainly wouldn't have wanted anything else.

13MrsLee
Apr 22, 2020, 4:56pm

>8 Sovay: Good to know, since I have that cookbook and we bought a bag of maize when there was no other flour in the store!

14Sovay
Modificato: Apr 23, 2020, 7:00am

>13 MrsLee: I'm planning to use some more of my maize flour to make a dish from The Great War Cookbook: from Trench Pudding to Carrot Marmalade. I was surprised, as I browsed through the book, at the variety of unexpected substitute ingredients, including the maize flour, for which the author was giving recipes. Same reason, clearly - serious shortages of many familiar foods by 1918 - but for some reason I hadn't expected the author to be so experimental! There's a long section early in the book explaining the various ways in which the taste of chocolate can be removed from cocoa butter to make it a suitable substitute for butter/marge/other cooking fats.

15MrsLee
Apr 23, 2020, 9:47am

>14 Sovay: Now that sounds like my kinda book! Although, if I had chocolate, I would eat it rather than whatever I needed the fat for.