Short on cornmeal? Grinding up leftover popping corn is an easy, no food waste way to create coarse grind cornmeal that works great! I thought this was an excellent way to ease into the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
I had a taste for corn, specifically polenta a few days ago. I’d made some recently in my Instant Pot but with fine cornmeal. What I got was not unsurprisingly cornmeal mush—not a bad thing, but it wasn’t polenta.
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As I have been inventorying my pantry more frequently now that I am home, I’m definitely aware of shortages of many of our basic staples. You have likely seen the sold-out notices that include flours, yeast, dried beans for example, and produce, I’ve become even more determined not to waste anything and to test using what is already in my home. Toasted sorghum grain into flour, rolled oats to oat flour, soymilk to yogurt- check!
I have a fun-to-use microwave popcorn popper. It was recommended to me by Lynn Buono of Feast Your Eyes Catering after she bought multiples as holiday gifts. I went to FANTES Cookware shop and got one for myself (these are currently out of stock there.) I use my microwave infrequently, but this looked like fun. The first batch I made, using the popcorn setting on the microwave burned, but after doing just 1-minute intervals per ¼ cup of popping corn, I had a big bowl to munch. Plain and with cheesy nutritional yeast, aka nooch, is how I like my popcorn.
So now, looking at the popping corn in a bag on the shelf with my dried fruits, I had a thought: would it grind into it flour in my high-speed Vitamix blender? I do have a dry grain container, but the regular container would be fine. Maybe a clean coffee grinder would work too. Well, it worked a charm. I ground a scant ½ cup of popping corn and got scant ½ cup of course cornmeal. To be honest, right after I ground the popping corn into cornmeal, I remembered that my friend Chef Char Nolan had told me she’d done that to make muffins! Now, while mine looked good, would it taste good? I set out to find out. The recipe for corn cakes and pancakes follows. The first pancake I made stuck, but I cooked the crumbs, and when I tasted them – the fresh taste of corn exploded. I mean, who knew? I didn’t. Did you?
Note that you might have to adjust the amount of water to accommodate thirstier flours, like coconut. What you are looking for is a batter that is kind of like chunky peanut butter and falls off the spoon. This is a VERY forgiving recipe. Add more or less liquid, more flour- any of the ones I listed will keep the recipe gluten-free. Water, not plant milk, is used, and so on. All you need is one tablespoon of batter per silicone cup or per pancake.
Gluten-Free Corn Cakes or Pancakes from Repurposed Popping Corn
To make corn cakes preheat oven to 375F
For pancakes, heat a heavy bottom skillet or cast iron pan until it’s very hot and add enough oil to coat the bottom.
Cornmeal Pancakes and Corncakes Made From Popping Corn
Short on cornmeal? Grinding up extra popping corn is an easy and frugal way to create cornmeal that tastes fresh and delicious. Of courses, if you have medium grind cornmeal, you need not grind popcorn!
- ½ frozen banana- mine was pulled out of the freezer at the last minute and allowed to thaw while the cornmeal soaked.
- 3 ounces scant ½ cup popping corn ground to flour or use the scant half cup of coarse cornmeal
- ½ cup just-boiled water more as needed to make a pourable batter.
- 1 tablespoon of vegan butter or use oil, or leave it out
- 1 tbsp maple syrup Grade A dark, or use agave, date or sorghum syrup or granulated sweetener
- 3 tbsp oat flour more as needed (I make my own in the Vitamix from rolled oats)
- or use rice barley, or even coconut flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Pour the cornmeal into a medium bowl. Add the butter if using and pour the boiled water over. Stir and soak for 5 minutes. Add the sweetener of your choice.
- Add the oat (or other flour), the baking powder and salt and mix to a loose batter.
- Mash the defrosted banana with a fork and mix it into the batter.
- Add more flour as needed to get a pourable batter.
- Either make pancakes (you need to fry these in an oiled pan) or little corncakes (no oil)
Heat a griddle or cast iron or other heavy bottom pan and add enough neutral vegetable oil, or refined coconut oil to coat the bottom.
When the pan is hot, stir the batter and add pour 1 tablespoon per pancake into the pan. Cook a few minutes until you see bubbles and flip to cook the other side. These take only a few minutes.
Optional: add a few pieces of chocolate or chips to the hot pancakes.
For little corncakes:
Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into silicone cupcake bakers set on a baking sheet.
Bake 5- 6 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick removes almost clean. The tops will be cracked and still pale.
- Set on a cooling rack. Silicon stays very hot so be careful.
- After cooling for a few minutes, nudge the cakes with an offset out of the bakers.
Eat warm or at room temperature, plain or with vegan butter, jam, nut butter.
I admit to eating almost of these over the course of a day. They were so tasty. I froze the last 2 little corncakes.
This morning, as I was writing up the recipe, I heated the the frozen corncakes or 15 seconds in my microwave and they tasted just as good as the freshly made ones.
The last of the pancakes was smeared thickly with peanut butter and chocolate.
Please stay safe and continue to practice social distancing.
Stay in touch with family and friends.
I love comments, so please let us know what you are cooking or reach out to me via email. I’d love to hear from you.
Other Earth Day Recipes and Content To Enjoy
And if you have the time and interest to learn to make healthier treats, consider the Essential Vegan Desserts Course at Rouxbe. We’re extending the 20% discount for the May 5th course.
You can start as soon as you register.
The same is true for the Plant Based Professional Chef Program.