Wait, what are johnnycakes, exactly?
According to Sarah Copeland, author of the new cookbook Every Day Is Saturday, they’re a Southern-style, cornmeal-based pancake with a texture and flavor that’s entirely different from traditional flapjacks. And after trying her recipe for johnnycakes with rhubarb and sour cherries, we’ve officially become converts.
“These aren’t textbook johnnycakes,” Copeland says, “but this recipe makes utterly gorgeous pancakes and is still easy enough to make on repeat every weekend.” Challenge accepted.
2 thick stalks ruby red rhubarb, sliced on the bias (about 2 cups or 200g)
¼ cup (60ml) pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
One 24-ounce (680g) jar pitted sour cherries, in syrup or juices
1 cup (140g) fine to medium cornmeal
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour or (155g) gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1⅓ cups (320ml) buttermilk
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for cooking
Plain yogurt, for serving
1. Make the Topping: Combine the rhubarb and maple syrup in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over medium-low heat until the syrup bubbles just slightly and the rhubarb is steaming but not breaking down, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat, cover and let the rhubarb sit in the syrup until it softens but is still holding its shape and is bright red in color. Toss with the cherries and ½ cup to ¾ cup (120 to 180ml) of the cherry syrup—just enough to turn the syrup red but still leave it thick enough to drizzle with a spoon. Set aside.
3. Make the Pancakes: In a bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk and melted butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix together until the batter resembles a loose muffin batter, being careful not to overmix. You want to keep these pancakes light and airy.
4. Preheat a cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium heat until evenly warm. Add about 2 tablespoons of butter to coat the surface. When the butter sizzles, drop the batter in ⅓ cup portions (80ml) onto the skillet, leaving 2 inches (5cm) between them; cook until just starting to bubble around the edges. Flip and cook until just done, usually 1 to 2 minutes. You don’t want these to cook fully through, which can make them taste dry. Pull them off the griddle a second before you think they are ready; the batter will continue to steam and set inside on the way to the plate. Repeat until all the batter is used.
5. Serve the johnnycakes warm, topped with yogurt and the rhubarb and cherry mixture. Drizzle with any extra juices.