2008 is going to be a good year, or at least one filled with new classic recipes. My family and friends were kind to me this Christmas, giving me many classic cookbooks and you are going to be introduced to a lot of new ones in the coming days and weeks. But we'll start with a classic recipe for griddle cakes from a truly classic cookbook, Three Meals a Day: Cooking, Table, Toilet, Health. As the title suggests, this book is more than just recipes. If you're like my husband you'll ask the whole car ride home, "TOILET?! What does that have to do with cooking? TOILET!?" But you're not like my husband, so I trust you'll just enjoy this recipe and look forward to reading excerpts from it in the future.
This copy of Three Meals was given to me by a friend (she's my husband's boss, too, so shouldn't we be the ones giving her super cool gifts?). She collects classic Spanish and French primers and travel books, but for some reason picked this book up years ago. She wrote a very kind note about the book and how she never quite understood why she bought it. I'm glad she held onto it, because it is an amazing gift an an amazing book.
I always thought griddle cakes were the same thing as pancakes, but these definitely aren't the pancakes I know. The recipe says they are light and fluffy but, well, they aren't. They are rather heavy, but they do puff up quite a bit. You can see from the list of ingredients that there aren't any eggs or sweetener, and the only fat is from the buttermilk, but the corn meal provides a certain amount of sweetness and different texture. I just put a little maple syrup on mine, as you can see in the picture above, but my husband topped his with peanut butter and apple butter and a little syrup, he was shocked, shocked I tell you, that after eating six (!!) of these that he felt full most of the day. The cakes are large enough that you can cut them in half and toast them like an English muffin. Yum.
Adapted from Three Meals a Day: Cooking, Table, Toilet, Health, sometime in the 1890's. I cut the recipe in half and it made about 12 good size cakes. The batter is really, really thick, so you can add more water and they will be more pancake like, bubbling up when they are done on one side. The thick batter can be scooped onto the griddle using an ice cream scoop and cooked at a lower temperature for a little longer. I used half whole wheat flour, and half white flour and the balance seemed about right; all white flour would probably make a lighter cake.
1 quart of buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking soda
1 cup corn meal
5 cups flour
Beat all ingredients together, until most of the lumps are gone. Preheat a griddle over medium heat. Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle and cook on one side for a couple minutes. After flipping the cake, press down slightly with the spatula. Cook until done.