A confluence of two prompts inspired this meal. First, I have a bag of masa harina, leftover from a pupusa-making adventure, and didn’t know how else to use it. Second, I found tiny, ridiculously charming avocados at the farm stand. Though this batch of savory cornmeal breakfast cakes was a bit temperamental, I see more in my future.
I followed a recipe for my breakfast cakes, changing it as necessary. We loved the results, but the original recipe surely could use some tweaking. For instance, I only used half the bacon called for because there would be no room for batter if I’d used it all (and mine still have way more than the photo in the recipe book). My recipe below reflects my alterations and what I’ll do differently next time.
The good news: these are so delicious. A little cornmeal cake topped with bacon, scallions, and pickled jalapeño couldn’t go very wrong, and these don’t. The cakes aren’t the dense polenta pucks I’d worried they would be since they employ both regular flour and masa harina.
I served my savory cornmeal breakfast cakes with guacamole (presented in mini avocado halves) and salsa along with a side of sauteed mushrooms, but they’re just as good on their own. We packed a couple in our pockets for a hike the next day and they made an excellent picnic in the woods.
I used my ring molds on our griddler. My cakes turned out a little thicker than I’d like, which meant they took longer to cook. Next time, I’ll use the same amount of batter for eight cakes.
Savory Cornmeal Breakfast Cakes (adapted from Easy Breakfast & Brunch, a book we received for a wedding present)
Yield: 8 cakes (about 4 servings)
Note: You can use regular fresh jalapeño instead of the pickled, but I like the tang of the pickled better. Find it in a small can in the Latin food section of the grocery store. Freeze the rest in a little container for future use.
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup masa harina or fine yellow cornmeal
1 egg, separated
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
3 oz. thin-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4″ strips
4 scallions, thinly sliced into rounds (white and light green parts)
1-1/2 Tablespoons pickled jalapeño, finely diced
Grease 8 3″ ring molds. Heat a griddle (either electric or stovetop) to medium heat.
In a mixing bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork, then stir in the masa harina.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg yolk, buttermilk, and butter with a wire whisk. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano.
Put the egg white into a clean mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the batter.
Set the ring molds on top of the griddle and let them heat through. Scatter the bacon evenly between the ring molds and let it cook for about two minutes. Evenly divide the scallions and pickled jalapeño among the ring molds, then use a spoon to portion the batter into each ring. Let the batter rise and set, 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of your griddle, and lift off the ring molds. I used a thin knife to coax my ring molds off. If you remove them too early, the batter begins to spread; this isn’t disastrous, but it isn’t attractive. Use a flat spatula to flip the pancakes and continue to cook until the other side is lightly browned, another 5-10 minutes. You want to make sure they’re cooked all the way through.
Serve on their own, or with salsa and guacamole.