I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. I don’t exactly care for eggs; I only eat the whites. I’m not too fond of ham or bacon, but if I eat either of them, I want them to be nitrate free. And if I eat waffles, pancakes, crepes, blintzes or coffee cake – with their sugary complements – first thing in the morning, I’m on a food binge all day. (I do like toast.)
Now with all of my breakfast bashing out of the way, about once a year I find myself indulging in hash browns, egg whites fried in olive oil and multigrain toast slathered with Irish butter – for dinner.
For those of you who are breakfast lovers, especially lovers of pancakes, there are three equally important things to control in producing the perfect pancake: the consistency of the batter, the surface of the griddle or pan, and even heat. The best pancakes are created by mixing the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Then mix the liquid ingredients quickly into the dry ingredients and do not overbeat the batter; just give it enough quick strokes to barely moisten the dry ingredients. Ignore the lumps; they won’t interfere with the flavor or the texture of your finished product.
Superior flapjack results are achieved if the batter is mixed and then allowed to rest, covered, for a few hours before cooking. However, if you separate your eggs and beat your egg whites until stiff peaks form, you don’t need to let the batter rest.
Always test your batter by cooking a trial pancake first. If the batter’s too thick, adjust it by diluting it with a little milk; if it’s too thin, try adding a little flour a tablespoon at a time.
Greasing your griddle or pan isn’t necessary if it’s modern, made of soapstone, is properly seasoned or if you have at least two tablespoons of butter to every cup of flour in your batter recipe. If you’re using a crepe pan, grease it lightly and continue doing that between batches.
Testing the griddle for readiness is simply done by sprinkling a few drops of cold water on it until the water bounces and sputters. If the water just sits and boils, the pan’s not hot enough.
For you perfectionists who want perfectly round pancakes, the secret is to not drop the batter from high above the pan. Let it just pour from the tip of the spoon or ladle, then wait two or three minutes and turn your cake. A telltale sign that the pancakes are ready to turn is when bubbles form on the tops of the pancakes. Lift them with a spatula and see how nice and golden brown the underside is. Flip it and make sure to turn it only once. It takes about half the time to cook the underside as it does the first side, but don’t despair if both sides don’t look the same; the second side never seems to brown as well as the first.
Pancakes are best if served immediately, but if you can’t, then line a baking sheet with a tea towel and keep them in a 200-degree oven until everyone’s ready for breakfast (or dinner!). Never stack pancakes on top of each other without a cloth in between each layer; the steam they produce will make them flabby.
Who would have guessed that so many variables would be necessary to make a great pancake? Here’s a unique pancake recipe for your next breakfast or brunch, or dinner.
Sour Cream Pancakes with Spiced Apricots
1½ cups dried apricots, halved
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup apricot nectar
Juice of a lemon
10 cardamom pods, coarsely crushed
Place the above ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for five minutes. The apricots should be plump and the liquid syrupy. You can use fresh apricots when they’re in season. Use one pound of fresh apricots washed and pitted and reduce the nectar to 2/3 cup.
1¼ cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
¼ cup half and half
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Sift the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, sour cream and half and half and beat to a thick batter. Heat a skillet or griddle and wipe with a piece of paper towel that has been greased with the oil. When the surface is hot, drop large spoonsful of the batter onto the griddle and cook until the undersides are golden brown. Flip the pancakes and continue to cook until the cakes are done.
Serve the pancakes warm with spoonsful of the apricot sauce and some extra sour cream. Serves 4.
Well, it’s thyme to go.
“Jenny’s Kitchen” appears on public-access television stations in Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and Sacramento counties.
Leave a Reply