Pancakes. Flapjacks. Hotcakes. Griddle Cakes. Whatever you call them in your neck of the woods, they are awesome in their deliciousness. Seriously, have you ever met someone who didn’t love a good pancake? In fact, the whole world loves some kind of version of the pancake. The French have their crêpes, those delicate, thin pancakes perfect for wrapping around fresh strawberries or Nutella. The Chinese also make thin pancakes—Mu Shu Pork would be the same without them. And in some real sense, even a Mexican flour tortilla is a pancake.
Then there’s the question of syrup. For the kids I would keep Aunt Jemima on hand, even though you can’t beat real maple syrup. Growing up, we were a Log Cabin family, but somewhere along the way I strayed and became a fan of Aunt J. Finally, there’s also the issue of which goes better with pancakes. Sausage or bacon? I’m a sausage guy myself (wow, that sounded bad!), but only sausage links. My boys, on the other hand, are solid bacon supporters.
Pancakes have been a staple with my kids for some time. When they were little, I would take them to the local McDonald’s—one of those with the playground—on Sunday mornings and get them “hot cakes” (what McDonald’s calls pancakes) with sausage. I’d watch them crawl around those plastic tube thingies while I read the Sunday New York Times. I would have joined them but my middle aged dad-butt would have gotten stuck. Other times, I would take them to IHOP or The Pancake House, and many times I would make them from scratch at home.
©2015 Chris TerrellA Labor of Love!
The kids, now 13, have outgrown the McDonald’s playground, replaced with X-box and soccer. So Sunday morning pancakes have fallen by the wayside. But that changed on a recent Sunday morning. I decided that, after a long hiatus, I would make pancakes. I had everything I needed: flour, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar….but wait. The recipe called for milk. I had no milk! While I did have a pint of skim milk, it had expired about 16 days ago. The local grocery down the street is closed on Sundays, and I was too lazy to get in the car and drive to the local Piggly Wiggly. And then I remembered that I had a big box of Mini Moos from Costco! And while it only took about 75 Mini Moos, I got the required cup and three quarters of milk required for the recipe. Mission accomplished! And this time, Forrest wanted blueberry pancakes.
Here’s the recipe I used. It’s from The Joy of Cooking, and I’ve been using it since high school—it’s never let me down.
About sixteen 4-inch pancakes
Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Combine in another bowl:
1 1/2 cups milk (or 75 Mini Moos)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Mix the liquid ingredients quickly into the dry ingredients. Spoon about a 1/4 to 1/3 of cup of batter per pancake onto a non-stick pan at medium high heat.
- Ignore lumps and don't over mix the batter—it will make the pancakes tough.
- Superior results are achieved when batter is rested, covered, and refrigerated for 3 to 6 hours before cooking.
- To test if the griddle is hot enough, place a few drops of water onto the surface. If the water bounces and sputters, the pan is hot enough. If it the water sits and boils, it is not. If the water evaporates quickly, then it is too hot.
- If the griddle is not hot enough, the batter will spread out too thin and the pancakes will not rise enough.
- Turn the pancakes only once.