These little cornmeal pancakes are a Southern classic with a California twist. The lore is that they once were made on the blade of a garden hoe over an open fire. They’re heavier than crepes but still fluffy. Hoecakes are versatile with both salty and sweet toppings; try them as appetizers with salty smoked salmon or as full-size pancakes with syrup.
Yield: 40 little hoecakes or 12 to 14 large ones | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes
1¼ cups medium-grind cornmeal
¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for cooking
Caviar, ideally from California, for garnish
¼ cup crème fraîche
Chives for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 200ºF.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Add the 4 tablespoons of the melted butter and stir to combine. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with the end snipped off.
Heat a large nonstick pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pan. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of the batter into the pan per hoecake; do not crowd the pan. Cook until the hoecakes are browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Wipe out the pan in between batches and add fresh butter. Keep the hoecakes warm in the oven.
Top each hoecake with a dollop of caviar and crème fraîche. Cut the chives into 1½-inch batons and lay them on top of the hoecakes for garnish.
“Reprinted with permission from Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes from a culinary Journey West by Tanya Holland, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”
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