I'll be brutally honest about the birth of this recipe. When we were wedding planning (#RIP) and discussing the menu with the two loveliest women ever from our venue (Hurd Orchards), they were so encouraging of, and excited about, us taking it in any direction we wanted. Hurd Orchards, being a fruit and flower farm, was the perfect place to be able to show off all the incredible foods the farm (and others) had produced that time of year (late summer). We had been to brunches, teas, and dinners at Hurd Orchards before and loved every single thing we'd had (think: rustic country, but sophisticated and delicate), so deciding what we wanted to have at our wedding was both difficult and fun. We wanted a beautiful, colorful summer menu that read more like garden party than wedding (i.e. although they have their place, or several, in the world, bacon wrapped scallops weren't what we had in mind for our day).
You know when you have an idea in your head that you're set on, and you're just struggling to articulate it or get others to understand it? That's the story with these corn cakes. I would try to explain what I was envisioning: the sweetest little two-bite appetizer with beautiful bright yellow corn, light crème fraîche, and decorated with one of my favorite herbs: little slivers of emerald green dill. I could see it and taste it in my head. But on the other side of my brain/skull (AKA the outside world), Jon and the ladies from Hurd were like "So like corn pancakes? Corn fritters? Like corn bread?" And none of the things sounded exactly right.
I'm relieved and excited to have been able to bring my mind's eye's image to life. They're as beautiful and tasty as I imagined, and bursting at the seams with sweet corn that pops when you bite into it. The dill crème fraîche is bright and tangy and eat-it-by-the-spoonful worthy.
Sweet corn cakes with dill crème fraîche
Yields 12-14 cakes
¼ cup crème fraîche
3 T finely chopped dill, divided
1 cup flour
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
⅓ cup water
1 T lemon juice
1½ cups sweet corn (fresh is best, but frozen and defrosted works too)
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced and roughly chopped
2 T canola oil (plus a little extra if you need to add more to the pan after a couple of batches)
Extra chopped dill for garnish
Begin by combining the crème fraîche and 2 T dill in a small bowl. Mix well and store, covered, in fridge until ready to top the corn cakes.
Then get started on making the batter. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Then add in egg, water, and lemon juice, and mix until just combined. Fold in corn, onion, and remaining 1 T of dill. Set aside.
Add canola oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium-low. When it has come to temperature, drop little mounds of batter (roughly 1½ to 2 inches in diameter) into the pan—they don’t have to be perfectly shaped (I did this in batches of about 5 so that the pan was not crowded and I had room to flip). Be careful—the oil tends to splatter a bit. Cook about 1½ to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and just cooked through. If you feel like the oil is too hot (cake is getting charred before cooking through to the center), lower temperature slightly before the next batch. And feel free to add a bit more oil to the pan if you need more to finish remaining batches. Use a spatula to remove from pan and set directly on your serving dish.
When finished and cakes have cooled slightly, spoon a little bit of dill crème fraîche on top of each one. Sprinkle with extra dill and serve warm or at room temperature, perhaps with a side of remaining dill crème fraîche for dipping.