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Recipe courtesy of Chris Hastings

Warm Johnny Cakes with Wild Blackberries

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 50 min (includes cooling, steeping and rising times)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings (plus additional honeysuckle butter)
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Ingredients

Honeysuckle Simple Syrup:

2 cups sugar

6 cups freshly picked honeysuckle flowers

Honeysuckle Butter:

2 pounds (8 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes

Pinch salt 

1/4 cup roughly chopped freshly picked honeysuckle flowers 

Johnny Cakes:

2 cups milk

3/4 cup honey 

3 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 9 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups finely ground yellow cornmeal 

4 1/2 cups wild blackberries

6 large egg whites 

2 tablespoons sugar

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter 

Directions

Special equipment:
an instant-read thermometer
  1. For the honeysuckle simple syrup: Combine the sugar with 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the flowers in a large bowl and pour the syrup over the flowers. Let steep and cool to room temperature, then strain out the flowers. Refrigerate until using.
  2. For the honeysuckle butter: Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the butter on low speed and add the pinch of salt. Once the butter is soft and malleable, slowly whip in 1 1/2 cups of the honeysuckle simple syrup. Once the syrup is combined, slowly add the flowers.
  3. For the Johnny cakes: Combine the milk, honey and 3/4 teaspoon of the lemon zest in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the honey is dissolved and the mixture registers 110 degrees F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat, add the yeast, cover and let steep until the yeast begins to foam, about 15 minutes.
  4. Combine the cornmeal and milk mixture in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put the blackberries in a medium bowl and add 2 cups of the honeysuckle simple syrup. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining 2 1/4 teaspoons lemon zest. Let the berries sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on low speed until foamy. With the machine running, add the sugar 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to medium and whisk until the egg whites form medium-stiff peaks. Set aside.
  7. Once the batter has risen and soaked up most of the liquid, fold in one-third of the egg white mixture. Add a second third of the egg whites and fold until well incorporated. Fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to overmix or deflate the batter.
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the batter to the skillet 2 rounded tablespoonfuls at a time to form cakes about the size of a silver dollar. Cook the cakes until golden brown and cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes each side. Transfer the cakes to a plate and keep warm until ready to serve. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter.
  9. Arrange 3 cooked cakes on each of 6 dessert plates. Evenly divide the macerated blackberries and their juices over the cakes. Top each plate with 1/2 cup of the honeysuckle butter. Serve immediately.
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