As a teenager, I used to make breakfast for my family almost every Sunday morning.
When I turned 16, that sometimes meant driving to our local bakery to pick up a dozen bagels. But before I got my license, somehow the Sunday morning ritual involved my father running out to get fresh OJ, my mom making coffee, and my manning the pancake griddle with commentary from the peanut gallery. My dad’s main rule of thumb was “always double or triple the amount of sugar.” Sort of funny because he envisions himself a scientist (actually both of my parents are computer scientists), making backseat driver comments like, “never put reagents back into the bottle” if I measured flour over the big pink container in which we stored our flour, as I perfected my burgeoning foodie-worthy technique of slicing the flour with the back of a knife and then knocking any excess back into the “reagent source.”
Today, when I came home from a meeting with a massive headache, craving some comfort food and knowing I had at least a half-quart of milk that was approaching its expiration date, I was inspired to make this childhood memory, satisfying my carb craving and hoping for the best after popping a few NSAIDs and trusting my doctorly instincts.
The prognosis after eating this impromptu meal: pretty tasty… I think I’ll survive another day. But I may need another dose tomorrow.
Sunday Morning Pancakes – perfect anytime
I unfortunately cannot place the source of my recipe. Years ago I must have written the ingredients on a sticky and placed it on the inside cover of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (12th ed). This cookbook was given to my grandmother in 1980 and eventually passed on to me. It was the source of recipes for some of my first entertaining endeavors (Chicken Marengo, Mushroom-stuffed Chicken Breasts), but was clearly NOT my first source of inspiration. Once I find the original recipe source, I’ll update this post. Nonetheless, the steps are embedded in my memory. The trickiest part is getting the burner to the right and consistent heat.
Makes about 12-15 pancakes, depending on how large you make them. This recipe easily doubles or triples and can be kept in the fridge for a day or two, or you can make extra pancakes to freeze, and then lightly toast them during the week.
- 1 egg (I used a jumbo egg today)
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 C buttermilk (I used skim milk today)
- 2 T shortening (I used canola oil today)
- 1 C flour (can substitute up to 1/2 whole wheat)
- 1 T sugar (or a little more, if you’re following my father’s formula)
- 1 t baking powder
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- Extra shortening for the griddle
Mix together egg, milk, and shortening (if you use butter or margarine, make sure to melt first) in large bowl. Add dry ingredients to bowl and mix gently to incorporate. It’s OK for this to be lumpy, i.e., don’t beat or over-mix or make in your Kitchen Aid or other mixer. Just do this by hand.
If you are going to eat with syrup, open your bottle of pure maple syrup (yum!) and gently heat it up in a pot of simmering water while you make the pancakes.
Heat up your griddle or frying pan to medium (this always requires a bit of experimentation, but I liked it on 3 on my electric stove). You’ll know the pan is hot enough when you flick a drop or two of water and it dances around.
Melt a little butter (or cooking spray if you’re saving calories) on the griddle and drop about 2 T of batter for each pancake (I have a small pan that I use, so I scoop with a 1/4 C measure to make 2 cakes per batch).
I find that the first batch rarely comes out well, so I usually only make one per batch until I get the temperature right. This first one was set at a bit too low – you can see it’s a little light-colored. (But, that didn’t stop me from eating it!)
Adjust the flame (er, electric temperature) accordingly based on the outcome of the first pancake or two.
The way you know that the pancakes are ready to flip over is that the bubbles break and don’t cover over.
Don’t wait for all the bubbles to pop — it will be too late. But, once the bubbles are still forming and closing but a few start to remain open, this is the perfect time – FLIP the pancakes over now. NOW. Don’t wait for a few more bubbles. Cook the pancakes on the second side for about a minute, maybe two.
Repeat with the remaining batter. A little word to the wise: I often find that I need to lower the heat a little after the first few batches – maybe I just stop paying such close attention, or maybe the electric burner just isn’t so reliable. As I said, keeping a consistent temperature is the trickiest part of the recipe.
In my family, the pancakes disappeared as quickly as I could make them. But, if you are waiting to serve everyone at the table all at once, you can keep the pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in the oven set at ~200ºF.
If you have extra batter, you can refrigerate for 1-2 days, or better yet, make all your pancakes and stick them in the freezer. Defrost them briefly, lightly toast, and voilà — quick breakfast.
I only serve these with pure maple syrup, and hopefully by the time you’re done making your pancakes, you have heated up the maple syrup in your water. Don’t pour cold maple syrup on your nice warm fresh pancakes. It’s insulting and sad.