Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteIt took me seven tries to get these pancakes right.

About a month before we left for Maine, I declared to my travel buddies, VJ and Adam, that I was going to make a a pancake recipe that we could all enjoy. They sort of smiled and nodded because I had clearly lost my mind—VJ is a gluten-free vegan and Adam is a bit of a picky eater, so this basically seemed impossible.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteNever one to let logic stop me, I set to work. I looked at my pancake recipes and a couple more from around the internet, and then I had six consecutive fails. Every problem pancakes could have, these had: too dry, too bland, too thin, too many ingredients, too stuck to the pan—you name it. I had one batch that was somewhere in the realm of “okay” and as vacation drew near I figured it could work in a pinch, but I was less than enthused about it. I’d crack the code one day, but it wasn’t going to be in time for this trip.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteBut then, there was cornbread. On the second night of vacation, we decided to grill out. Grilling is not my forte, so Adam took the lead there and I worked on side dishes. I threw out a few ideas to VJ; sautéed spinach was a definite winner, but she sort of lost her mind when I mentioned veganizing my already-gluten-free Southern-Style Cornbread. I had never attempted a vegan version of that recipe, but I figured it would be easy enough. I could swap almond milk soured with vinegar for buttermilk, use a few tablespoons of vegan margarine in place of butter, and I could crack open a can of chickpeas and use the aquafaba in place of the egg. It’s that last change that made that cornbread so good, and when VJ asked for my overhyped Cornmeal Pancakes last Wednesday morning, it’s that change that made a solidly “okay” recipe into one I’ll make again and again.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteHave you heard of aquafaba? It’s having a bit of a moment right now—it made The New York Times. If you’re in the dark about this miracle of modern baking, I’m sure you’re not alone. Literally translated, aquafaba means “bean water.” And that’s exactly what it is—the liquid from cooking (and canning) chickpeas. If you have a can of chickpeas (or any bean, actually) in your pantry, you have aquafaba in your house right now. Who knew?!

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteBefore you go clicking away from this blog forever, hear me out. I know using the cooking liquid from chickpeas in baking sounds absolutely bizarre, but it actually makes a lot of sense, scientifically speaking. Like eggs, aquafaba is super high in protein and very viscous; when whipped, it can even hold stiff peaks! You don’t need to break out your mixer for this recipe though—just three tablespoons of liquid aquafaba help these Cornmeal Pancakes to stay fluffy and keep them from being too crumbly. And since aquafaba doesn’t have a distinctive flavor like other vegan egg replacers (I’m looking at you, flaxseed), it doesn’t distract from the slightly sweet corn flavor 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

These Cornmeal Pancakes, y’all. They’re light and fluffy with crispy edges and a rich corn flavor. Oh, and they’re beautiful too.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteYou could certainly serve them with butter (or vegan margarine) and maple syrup…

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote…but I am all about this Blackberry Compote.
Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteIt only has four ingredients and takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and it’s basically like topping your pancakes with pie filling (but with much less sugar).

However you choose to serve these Cornmeal Pancakes, I hope they make your friends and family as happy as they made mine.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote
Photo courtesy of Valancy Jane.
Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid)
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola), plus more for cooking
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Serving:
butter (vegan or regular)
pure maple syrup 
Blackberry Compote (recipe below)

In a liquid measuring cup, combine unsweetened almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit 5 minutes or until curdled.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add almond milk mixture, aquafaba, oil, and vanilla, and whisk until combined.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add batter to the pan in 1/4 cup increments, leaving space between pancakes. Let cook until the edges no longer look raw, about 2-3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat process with all remaining batter, adding oil to the pan as necessary.

Divide pancakes among serving plates. Top with butter, maple syrup, and/or Blackberry Compote. Serve immediately.

Blackberry Compote
makes about 2 cups

12 ounces fresh blackberries 
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lime

In a small saucepan, combine blackberries, sugar, and cinnamon. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until a sauce forms (about 5 minutes). Use a potato masher to mash blackberries until the desired texture is reached. Bring to a boil for 1 minute before removing from heat. Stir in lime juice. Let cool completely.

Compote will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry PieI hope you have a place like Swans Island.

Blackberry PieI don’t necessarily mean an island off the coast of Maine with one store and a population of 300 (but I highly recommend it). I mean a place that you find endlessly enchanting. For my parents, it’s Santa Fe. For my older sister, it’s Isla Mujeres, Mexico. For me, it’s this little island four miles out to sea. I just can’t get enough.

Blackberry PieThe appeal of this place isn’t the broad spectrum of activities—in fact, it’s the opposite that keeps me counting the days between trips. Whereas in New York I am constantly bombarded with people and noise and tasks that must be dealt with right-this-second, on Swans Island, a car passes the house once every ten minutes, the only consistent sound is that of a bell on a lobster boat floating a mile away, and there is literally nothing I have to do. As Swans Island has limited phone and internet access too, this is a place where it really is possible to get away from it all.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieFaced with a lack of activities, each of my friends and I have found ways to pass the time. Almost all of the things we do together (hiking, beaching, cooking, etc.) take place in the afternoons, so we each have to find a way to while away the mornings. Adam has been tearing through a book, VJ has put together 2.5 puzzles, and I have been wandering the sides of the road with a saucepan in hand, foraging for berries.

Blackberry PieThe last time I was here, I found mostly blueberries and raspberries—Blue-Razz Pie was the result. This time, the vast majority of the berries have been blackberries, so Blackberry Pie it is.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieThis pie, y’all. It’s made with my Whole Wheat Pie Dough and a super simple blackberry filling. Just fold some sugar, cinnamon, lime, and cornstarch into a few cups of fresh blackberries and it’s good to go. Now you can concentrate on the top crust.

Blackberry PieWhile you may top your pie however you like, may I suggest a lattice? They’re very easy and I love all the pockets of blackberry filling that peek through. Start by laying a few strips of dough parallel across the top of the filling. I cut my strips in different widths because I think it’s cute.

Blackberry PiePeel back a couple of the strips of dough and lay one perpendicularly across the filling. Then place all the strips back in their original positions.

Blackberry PiePull up the strips you didn’t move the first time and lay another strip across. Keep doing this until you don’t have any room left.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieCrimp the crust, brush it with egg wash, and give it a good sprinkle of sugar.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Bake until beautiful and serve a la mode.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Share with friends and definitely go back for seconds. It’s vacation, after all.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

1 recipe Whole Wheat Pie Dough or other good crust
4 cups fresh blackberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
sugar, for sprinkling

On a floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter and fit it in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, and lime. Fold with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated. Transfer filling to prepared crust, discarding any excess liquid. Refrigerate.

On a floured surface, roll out the other disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. If you’d like a lattice crust, slice the rolled dough into strips (see photos above for instructions). If you want a full top crust, lay the rolled-out dough on top of the filling and cut a few vents. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang, and crimp the top and bottom crust edges together. Refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire exposed crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, tenting with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Slice and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.