Pancakes little circles of love

I'm not saying these are perfect, but I've run through 77 iterations of my recipe and this is the best I have made yet and I'm done messing around. I've tried yogurt and cottage cheese and buttermilk and all sorts of other stuff but these hit the spot and I can walk into just about any kitchen and whip these up in no time.

These are not some sort of crunchy earth muffin tree hugging whole wheat flapjack pancakes.

No sir, that's not what we are here for - this is about pancake delight, not a high-fiber diet or bonding with mother nature. This is about pleasing that little kid down in your soul (the one your job keeps trying to wrestle to the ground and strangle to death, slowly, while it smiles gleefully) and your real little kids sitting at the breakfast table with silverware in hand chanting "pancakes! pancakes!".

Oh hell, yes!

My long journey of experimentation has been primarily an effort to come close to the lovely pancakes that my mother made for me when I was a kid. Mom makes the best pancakes and always has - the sort of pancake that made you know you were loved, that someone really cared about you and that no matter what the day brought it was going to turn out just fine. Those are powerful pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour (I use unbleached, and sometimes even the "whole-wheat white")
  • 3.5 teaspoons baking powder (Rumford is best, avoid that Clabber Girl woman, she knows nothing! Nothing!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (no, you don't need some exotic sea salt)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (white, granulated, nothing fancy – sugar in the raw is a lie you know!)
  • Not quite 1 1/2 cup milk, reserve a bit and see if you like the consistency (whole milk is best, not skim. If you want light, this is not your recipe, move along)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (real butter, not margarine, or soy, or canola or any other junk)
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla extract (the good stuff)
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh is best, but from the yellow and green bottle will do)
Are you in a good mood? No? Then do not make pancakes.

Directions

They can't fix your mood all alone (they aren't magic pancakes damn it) and if you are not in a good frame of mind you are not going to make good pancakes so have a banana and some cereal. Or some Greek yogurt, lots of protein and apparently quite trendy now.

First thing: turn on the stove and get the griddle warming up now. You don't want an inconsistent temperature as you are plowing through your batter. You are shooting for a nice low-medium to medium heat. A few drops of water on the griddle should dance nicely. Don't test with too much water or you'll pull too much heat from the griddle and then you'll have to wait. Not good.

If you are lucky enough to be using a gas stove, then good for you. I'm not so fortunate now so my griddle needs a little more time to come up to temperature so get this going now.

Heat your syrup. I use a hot water bath (after flooding the microwave with syrup in the past). You aren't going to use some imitation junk in a plastic bottle so treat it nicely. Nothing ruins fresh pancakes like cold syrup or having none because it all boiled over in the microwave.

Chop the butter up in a few chunks and nuke it for 30 seconds or so - this is one of the few times the microwave is okay for anything besides heating leftovers. Don't overdo it - you want the butter to cool down (this is why you are doing this first) so nuke it for a few seconds at a clip, checking each time.

Get two large bowls. If one is bigger than the other, then use the smaller of the two for the dry ingredients.

Add the flour, the baking powder, salt and sugar to this bowl. Now about powder: If you can find it, use Rumford baking powder and not Clabber Girl. Okay, I know the same corporation, right, whatever, that Clabber Girl doesn't know squat about baking - stick to Rumford if you can find it. I'm serious. I take pancakes very seriously. Really. I used to use 5 tablespoons of sugar and actually now have pulled it down to three, but four is right out for me (not a prime number for one) but it might make a good place to start your experimentation. Too much and the pancakes might brown a bit too quickly.

Stir the dry ingredients a bit to combine them, you don't need to sift the flour (not since about 1977, really, look it up).

Add the eggs to the other bowl. You add the eggs first because if you are like me you have a four year old helping and there will be egg shells in the bowl and fishing them out is easier if there isn't already milk in there. Add the milk, the vanilla and the lemon juice, then as you whisk everything (gently) stream in the cooled butter. Don't overdo the whisking, just get things reasonably smooth. That is fine, you aren't making crepes.

Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Slowly. Carefully. Using a whisk. Not something with an electric cord or a motor. Don't mix them too much - if you overwork the batter here you should just pour it down the drain. The batter doesn't have to be smooth, just mixed. You want a batter that you can poor or spoon out easily but not really runny. You might need to add a bit more milk depending on the size of your eggs.

Toss the now empty bowl in the dishwasher or the sink (and hit it with some water first). The idea is to pack the dishwasher as you go so there is almost no cleanup at the end, only pancakes to eat. Focus!

You didn't put the wet ingredients into the dry did you? That's not what I said and it makes a difference. Throw it out and sacrifice something to the pancake deities for their forgiveness. I mean it. This is important!

I use 1/3 of a cup per pancake, but this is entirely up to you, your kids, and the size of your griddle. I cook the first side for approximately 63 seconds and the second side for 61 seconds. Approximately. This is just a measure of a qualitative judgment. You cook the first side until bubbles form and the bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook until the edges are just beginning to dry.

You'll need to practice your flipping technique, but the focus here is the pancake, not the flipping, not the cook. Pancakes. Pancakes! This is science! Science! Concentrate. Children are waiting.

You can get one of those cool pouring devices that give you the same amount of batter from every trigger pull, but I just use a measuring cup. Also make sure your turner/flipper is very thin-edged and clean. No, that is not a spatula, at least not where I come from.

If your pancake has a dusty texture to it once you've flipped it the first time, then the griddle is not hot enough, stop ruining batter and let the griddle come up to temperature.

About shapes and molds. You can make Mickey Mouse by just pouring carefully or use molds to make all sorts of cool shapes. I've tortured some great friends by buying them molds and I am sure they would like me dead for it. I don't go for molds and our kids are more interested in eating great pancakes than chewing the heads off of dinosaurs. Molds are generally a pain in the ass and grumpy cooks do not make good pancakes. Molds cut down on your productivity, and that means unhappy children which means pain for everyone.

Serve hot. Oh, and warm your plates first, it is just polite.

Approved Toppings

  • Thinly sliced bananas
  • Thinly sliced strawberries
  • Whole blueberries, raspberries
  • Dusting of powdered sugar
  • Real whipped cream (teaspoon of vanilla, tablespoon of sugar)
  • Real butter, unsalted
  • Real maple syrup (from Vermont or Canada, not New Hampshire, not since that incident I had there in 1991), Amber or Dark Amber only, no flavored syrups for us, but I'll cut you some slack on this one.

Approved Filings

You can make chocolate chip pancakes but don't go wild. You are looking for a perfect blend of that lovely cake texture and a touch of sweet from the maple syrup - chocolate can push the balance out of whack if not applied carefully. Don't try this until maybe your 4th test run or so. You may only use a prime number of Nestle chocolate chips per pancake. 2, 3, and 5 are cool, but 4 is right out. Eleven is too many. I said, eleven is too many, even though it is prime.

Blueberries - pretty similar story as chocolate chips. Wash the berries and remove stems and pitch the mushy ones. Pat them dry and again, use only a prime number of berries per pancake. Don't overdo this, always better to serve fruit on the side.

Bacon - I love applewood smoked bacon as much as the next guy, but it goes next to the pancake, not inside it.

Freezing

I make two batches (don't make a double batch or quality will suffer - trust me!) and cook them and set them on a wire rack for a couple minutes to cool. Toss them into a freezer ziplock bag in one layer (not on top of each other) and freeze them. To reheat, wrap them in a paper towel and nuke them for 60 seconds ( 29 seconds one side, 31 seconds the other side) and you have a worthwhile substitute for fresh pancakes. Not *as good* but okay. You can also use the toaster but they become stiffer - sometimes the kids like them that way too.

Enjoy.

welshofer@gmail.com

Created By
Jay Welshofer
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