My passion for pancakes began with an order of chocolate-chocolate chip beauties at IHOP. I ate an entire stack. (No small feat for child of 3 or 4.)

My ardor continued through childhood, the teen years and on into college, where friends and I trekked every weekend to a hole-in-the-wall diner for flapjacks as big as dinner plates. We’d plough through short stacks and watch in amazement as one of our group topped breakfast off with a slice of pecan pie. (A la mode.)

Pancakes. Flapjacks. Hoecakes. I love ’em more today than ever. I revel in their variations:

  • Stuffed with summer berries;
  • Studded with candied nuts;
  • Fat and pillowy with buttermilk;
  • Flattened and rolled around bananas or chocolate.

pancakesMy favorite for fall? The cornmeal pancakes I made yesterday morning: Sweet yet savory; dense yet delicate … they were the perfect breakfast for a chilly morning. (And awfully good at mopping up the birthday brandy from the night before …)

Next time I make them, I may add cocoa and chocolate chips.

It’ll be my ode to pancake passion. (IHOP-style.)

Cornmeal Pancakes

(Spread these with Nutella and best-quality cherry jam for a party-worthy dessert. Cut the sugar and add minced scallions, corn kernels and a dusting of cumin and chili powders for a savory side dish. For a buttermilk variation, substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the regular, decrease the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons, and add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ground cornmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill, coarsely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon applesauce (or vegetable oil)

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk the milk, egg and applesauce to blend. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

pancake batterPour 1/4-cupfuls of batter onto a very hot pan or griddle. When bubbles appear in the batter, flip and continue cooking until the cakes done. Transfer to a platter and loosely cover with foil or a kitchen towel to keep warm. Serve with syrup or jam.

(Or Nutella and chocolate chips.)