Summer Corn Cakes

By • August 7, 2013 23 Comments

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Author Notes: I first tasted this corn cake at Kerry Diamond's quaintly Southern restaurant Seersucker, where it was strewn with a tangle of raw corn kernels and heirloom tomatoes -- and that's what you should do to it too. (Two seasonal birds, one stone.) The thing lasted a mere 3 minutes on the table, and around minute 1, it occurred to me that this was the only responsible way to navigate corn fatigue: let the sweet, starchy kernels stage a little healthy competition with basil and red onion, and then mellow it all out in a hot, buttered skillet.

If you're wise, you'll top it with a poached egg, like Seersucker does. A fried one works just as well, so long as there's a runny yolk to mediate between flavors, to make them place even nicer than they're told they should.

Recipe adapted from Seersucker.
Kenzi Wilbur

Makes eight 4-inch cakes

For the cakes:

  • 2 cups corn kernels, divided in half (from about 3 ears)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for cooking
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup basil chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

For the topping:

  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Eggs, poached or fried or left off if you're lazy
  1. In a blender, purée half the corn kernels, butter, and buttermilk until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in remaining corn kernels, onion, and basil.
  2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine all of the dry ingredients.
  3. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined.
  4. In a skillet, melt some butter over medium heat and about add 2 heaping tablespoons of batter for each pancake. (You can customize this based on how big you'd like your cakes to be, of course.) Cook about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  5. For the topping, combine tomato and corn with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spoon mixture over the corn cakes.
  6. Top each cake with an egg, salt, and pepper, and garnish with basil.

More Great Recipes: Breakfast|Corn|Basil|Tomatoes|Olive Oil

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Comments (23) Questions (0)

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1 day ago Paulaob

I would like to try these, but was wondering is the butter room temperature or melted?

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1 day ago Laura415

It's probably melted or very soft because it's going into the blender with buttermilk. That wouldn't blend too smooth if the butter was cold. Just guessing though using cooking deduction:)

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5 days ago Mark Mann

I think I'll sub chickpea flour for the flour and leave out the baking soda and baking powder, for a bit more protein, less gluten and more vitamins and minerals. And a nice nutty flavor.

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6 days ago oldunc

There's no reason this type of recipe can't be made with frozen corn, especially since most corn on the cob available is the insipid white variety; if you don't actually live in a corn field, Trader Joes organic super sweet is probably better than you can get fresh anyway. I used to make a sauce to go with corn fritters that should go well with this; l med. very ripe bell pepper (or other sweet peppers- fresh Anchos are wonderful if you can find them), peeled (roasted or over a flame) and seeded, Cayenne to taste, 3-4 cloves garlic, 1 Tb. brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tb. red vinegar, salt- puree and simmer together 5 min.- of course all these things can be adjusted to taste.

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3 months ago suzyb

I understand that the kernels in the cakes are raw, but should those in the topping also be raw as well? thanks.

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over 1 year ago beejay45

This just sounded so good to me, an antidote to the standard breakfast pancake and more. I had forgotten all about this until I was cruising the site today. I made them last year, with the last of the fresh corn, in my inherited plett pan -- the combination of butter and cast iron gave them a nice crispy exterior. We served them as an appetizer, topped with some fresh ricotta a sprinkling of fresh herbs, plus the tomato and corn "relish" as you described. OMG! I think if I'd made a bigger batch, no one would have wanted dinner! Thank you so much for this recipe! The crunch of the fresh corn and the little bite of the red onion just really make it a standout. And a nice pitcher of Bloody Mary's didn't hurt either. ;)

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about 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Please be warned that these are very sweet, at least if your corn is freshly picked, as it should be. I served these for dinner, but at the last minute made a cucumber, mint and cilantro fresh chutney with a lot of lime juice and not the pinch of sugar I often add, to cut that sweetness.

Others may like them this sweet. And admittedly, I may be somewhat sensitive, as these days, I eat sweets (or foods containing any sweeteners at all) only on the rarest of occasions -- special holidays and celebrations, and then only in minute quantities -- as I deal with some serious health issues. But even members of my family who are not similarly restricted found them very sweet.

I do think they'd be delightful for breakfast, perhaps without the basil and onions, adding a pinch of nutmeg and a dash of vanilla, and serving with blueberries in syrup or maple syrup.
The ratio of the basic ingredients is perfect. I made them with barley flour, which provided light nutty notes. ;o)

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about 2 years ago GullMom

These look so yummy! I don't have buttermilk, though, and I'd love to make these tonight. What can I substitute for the buttermilk?

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about 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Just sour regular milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice per cup of milk -- let it sit for a few minutes to thicken, et voilà!

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about 2 years ago GullMom

Thanks!! I'm off to go make them right now!

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about 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Amazing. Let us know how they come out!

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about 2 years ago GullMom

I will!

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about 2 years ago GullMom

These were delicious!! My kids gobbled them up. Can't wait to use leftover batter for breakfast tomorrow....topped with a fried egg.

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about 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

So happy to hear it!

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about 2 years ago kasey

A stupid question maybe - cooked or raw corn kernels?

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about 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Not stupid! Raw.

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about 2 years ago ennuianomie

I could eat these everyday, they are that good. And no, they don't need cheese...

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about 2 years ago chez_mere

Making these tonight. Any thoughts about adding fresh mozzarella to the topping? Or maybe even in the batter??

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about 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

I've never done it -- but I think it would work well! Let us know how it comes out if you try it.

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almost 2 years ago chez_mere

I put in in the batter. Loved the way the cheese melted and got a little crispy on the edges. I think I would also try it with cheddar or a dill havarti...

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about 2 years ago MariahK

This made a really quick tasty dinner after work tonight. I used shallots instead of red onion and added some chives, but otherwise made as directed. I had a lot of extra cakes since there were only two of us so I think I'll have them for breakfast tomorrow, too!

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about 2 years ago Kenzi Wilbur

Kenzi is the Managing Editor of Food52.

Please do -- with a fried egg!

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about 2 years ago Dina Moore-Tzouris

Huge hit with the family(who is entirely sick of corn until tonight)! Didn't make the eggs for the top--seemed a little weird for dinner. I'd probably try that for brunch. Really delicious!