Summer Corn Cakes

August  7, 2013
9 Ratings
Photo by Eric Moran
  • Makes Eight 4-inch cakes
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • jacky143
  • Mark Mann
    Mark Mann
  • Smaug
  • AntoniaJames
  • ennuianomie

29 Reviews

jacky143 September 2, 2022
Didn't puree corn, left it whole. Used yogurt thinned with water + added garlic + charred jalapeno. Served it with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes corn basil spinach. Very please
Knit1Curl2 July 16, 2018
Thank you. Made these tonight, huevos rancheros style. Subbed cilantro for the basil, added a chopped jalapeno. Topped with black beans, egg, avocado, and fresh peach salsa.
NoBatteries September 23, 2017
I thinned down the batter with a little extra milk and made them into belgian-style savory waffles. 10/10, would waffle again.
BetsyLynnS August 17, 2016
I am going to make them appetizer size and my eggs will be salmon caviar.
I think the heirloom tomato and the salty ikura will be a nice match with the sweet corn.
Sunshine September 16, 2015
Made these with dinner tonigh! Served them plain with butter and some put honey on them. They were amazing!
LovinSpoon September 3, 2015
Made these last night for dinner. We were in absolute heaven! I used fresh corn from one of our local farm stands and probably added a bit more onion. The texture is perfect. I found myself sampling as I cooked but eventually served them with poached eggs and diced avocado and tomato with lime. I will be buying fresh corn and freezing the kernels so we can enjoy these throughout the winter! Thank you!
Paulaob August 30, 2015
I would like to try these, but was wondering is the butter room temperature or melted?
Laura415 August 30, 2015
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:)
Mark M. August 27, 2015
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.
Smaug August 25, 2015
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.
suzyb June 17, 2015
I understand that the kernels in the cakes are raw, but should those in the topping also be raw as well? thanks.
beejay45 March 16, 2014
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. ;)
AntoniaJames August 22, 2013
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)
A M. August 19, 2013
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?
Kenzi W. August 19, 2013
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!
A M. August 19, 2013
Thanks!! I'm off to go make them right now!
Kenzi W. August 19, 2013
Amazing. Let us know how they come out!
A M. August 19, 2013
I will!
A M. August 20, 2013
These were delicious!! My kids gobbled them up. Can't wait to use leftover batter for breakfast tomorrow....topped with a fried egg.
Kenzi W. August 20, 2013
So happy to hear it!
kasey August 16, 2013
A stupid question maybe - cooked or raw corn kernels?
Kenzi W. August 16, 2013
Not stupid! Raw.
ennuianomie August 15, 2013
I could eat these everyday, they are that good. And no, they don't need cheese...
chez_mere August 9, 2013
Making these tonight. Any thoughts about adding fresh mozzarella to the topping? Or maybe even in the batter??
Kenzi W. August 9, 2013
I've never done it -- but I think it would work well! Let us know how it comes out if you try it.
chez_mere September 15, 2013
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...
MariahK August 7, 2013
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!
Kenzi W. August 8, 2013
Please do -- with a fried egg!
Dina M. August 7, 2013
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!