cornmeal griddle cakes vs pancakes

When thinking about cornmeal griddle cakes vs pancakes it is easy to wonder which is best. Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, both were very popular. I decided to make recipes for both and see which I liked better.

What I Loved

The simplicity of these recipes was incredibly appealing. They were so different that it is hard to compare. The cornmeal griddle cakes cooked up like a pancake, but they tasted very much like cornbread. The flavor was very appealing and would go really well with a hearty slice of bacon and some eggs.

The buttermilk pancakes were fantastic. The flavor of the buttermilk was very subtle, yet provided a delightful tang. The pancakes were also incredibly fluffy. The thing I really liked about the recipe was that I had most ingredients on hand. It also took almost no time to whip these up.

Original Recipe For Cornmeal Griddle Cakes

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 cup boiling milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon drippings

Put corn meal in bowl, cover with boiling milk. When cold add the salt, fat, molasses, baking powder and eggs, which have been beaten until light. Mix all together and bake on a hot griddle. 

Original Recipe For Buttermilk Pancakes

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons liquid shortening

Mix all together well and add two tablespoons of liquid shortening. Bake on a fairly hot griddle.

Buttermilk pancake batter

What I Learned

I have always had an issue with molasses. I am not a huge fan of the smell and flavor. Furthermore, I think there are better sweeteners that could have been used in this cornmeal griddle cake recipe. Honey would be my go to substitution in the future with this recipe. I’d swap it out straight across with the molasses.

My main problem with the cornmeal griddle cakes was the fact that it seemed out of place at breakfast. They had a similar taste to cornbread, but the texture of a pancake.

When I think of cornbread I think about hearty soups and stews, like beans and ham, that fit perfectly with cornbread. I know in history there was a time when cornmeal griddle cakes where a solid breakfast food. However, I don’t feel that they have that same role in today’s world.

When it comes to the buttermilk pancakes, I learned I need to at least double the recipe next time. These things were bomb and disappeared as fast as I could get them out of the pan. The only thing I changed was that I substituted melted butter for liquid shortening. This was a minor tweak, mainly because I had butter on hand. However, if you want that authentic 1950s feel and flavor, use the shortening.

The Winner??

While the cornmeal griddle cakes were good, they weren’t great. The clear winner here was the buttermilk pancakes. My son devoured the pancakes when I made them. Then, on the way to school, he continued to rave about them. He repeated several times that they were the best pancakes he had ever had. That is quite the endorsement from a 6 year old!

I have to agree with him. When I ate both, the cornmeal griddle cakes seemed out of place. However, the buttermilk pancakes were a natural fit on the breakfast landscape. Furthermore, their simplicity, flavor, and tremendous fluffiness made them the clear winner in my book. This was my first time attempting buttermilk pancakes. I can assure you it will not be my last attempt!

Recipe References For Griddle Cakes vs Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes:

Rare Recipes and Budget Savers Volume 3. Frank Good, 1966

Cornmeal Griddle Cakes:

War Time Cook and Health, 1917

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Cornmeal Griddle Cakes vs Pancakes. Which Is Best?

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