Sunday, January 10, 2010
Sunday morning pancakes
Last night we had a drip in the ceiling over the sink, and I lay awake fretting about it. I kept getting up to check how quickly it was filling up the silver bowl that I had left under it . . . and I had terrible visions of waking to find that the kitchen ceiling had collapsed under the weight of water.* My husband is out of town, the roof is rimmed with icicles, and our driveway is one big drift of snow -- despite my shovelling efforts. Suddenly winter doesn't seem so cozy.
While I couldn't sleep, I kept thinking about pancakes.
Pancakes with melting butter and warm maple syrup. Hot coffee on the side.
Sitting in my kitchen in the darkish dawn, as I drank endless cups of tea and monitored the drip of water (wondering how early I could call my builder-friend), I flipped through The Little House Cookbook -- which has not just one, but two recipes for pancakes. One of the recipes is for the buckwheat pancakes that Alamanzo and Royal Wilder ate, plate after towering plate, during The Long Winter. The other recipe is for the "pancake men" that Laura ate as a small child in The House of the Big Woods. This one is a buttermilk batter, and you are advised to take a chunk of salt pork and grease up your (presumably cast iron) griddle. Although both recipes made for interesting reading, I decided to stick with my tried-and-true recipe for pancakes. It's an old family friend, and I felt more like comfort than experimentation after a largely sleepless night.
Pancake (or Waffle) Batter
2 cups of flour (approximately 320 grams)
1/3 cup sugar (68 grams)
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 ounces milk (450 ml)
2 large eggs
2 ounces butter (34 ml)
a dash of vanilla (not necessary, but I usually add it)
Sift together the dry ingredients. Then pour the milk, beaten eggs and melted butter over the top.
Lightly whisk until everything is well-incorporated, but don't worry about a few lumps. You don't want to overbeat this.
My mother uses an electric griddle to make pancakes, but I use a nonstick pan on the stove-top. You can make pancakes of any size, obviously, but a 1/4 cup scoop makes a medium-large pancake.
When the pancake begins forming bubbles that are just starting to pop, it is time to turn it. You can lift it up with a spatula and take a peek . . . it should be a golden brown color. If it sticks, it's not quite ready.
Making pancakes is not exactly an art, but there are a few tricks to the process. I always use nonstick pans, but I butter them lightly at first -- more for the flavor than anything else. One of my pans cooks faster than the other one, and one browns more evenly. I have a gas stovetop, and I keep it at medium-low flame for pancakes . . . but sometimes I will need to turn the heat down slightly after the pan thoroughly heats up. Your pans and burners will have their own idiosyncrasies, so just use your own good judgment!
I added some chopped pecans to the batter just after I poured it. Fresh blueberries or raspberries also make a good add-in.
*It turned out that the overflow from our water tank was freezing up, which caused it to back up. We had to get a new ball valve. Thank goodness for builder friends!