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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Best Ever Pancakes

Plain old pancakes are fine, but this recipe takes a simple breakfast component to a whole new level. They're hearty and have a great flavor all their own. When you add syrup, they are breakfast redefined. I really like them with fresh blueberries in the batter. Or, you could chop up peeled apples into the batter and make a cider sauce to go over the top (just add cornstarch, heat to thicken, and, voila!). I also like the convenience of a having a mix on hand. But you can't buy pancake mix like this! You have to make your own. I think it is so worth it. I have to buy the powdered eggs especially for this recipe (from Barry Farms, see link on sidebar), but I like the fact that when I go to mix them up, all I have to add is water and oil. And the mix makes a great gift. People love receiving something so easy and yummy! I have also included the original recipe for these pancakes in case you don't want to make the mix but want to taste a great pancake. Do note that I made some changes to the recipe when I made up the mix version. Oh, and you can also use this recipe to make waffles.

Best Ever Pancake Mix

4 cups all purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (scant) baking powder
1 TBS + 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 TBS + 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 TBS + 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk powder
10 TBS dried, whole eggs

Sift all ingredients together. Makes approximately 10 cups of dry mix. There are so many ways to package the mix for a gift, but I like simplicity. A computer printed label adds a sharp touch. To make pancakes, simply add 3/4 cup water and 4 tsp vegetable oil to every cup of mix used. One cup of mix makes about 4 - 5" round pancakes (ladled out with a 1/3 cup measure). See tips below on cooking great pancakes.

Best Ever Pancakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 TBS vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Add wet to dry and mix only until incorporated.

PANCAKE COOKING TIPS: I think the single most important factor in cooking great pancakes is pan temperature. Pancakes cook best at a fairly low temperature. This can be challenging for those of us that tend toward wanting to nuke everything on high (I have the same issues when cooking grilled cheese). While every stove is different, somewhere between medium-low and medium is probably a good bet. You only want it warm enough that the pancakes still brown nicely, but cook slowly and evenly.

The other thing that I think a lot of people do is use too much fat in the pan. I watched a cooking show once where the host used 1 TBS of oil per pancake in the pan. If you like fried pancakes, that would be great (in that case you would want to use a higher temperature). But if you want a nice soft, fluffy cake, all you need is a non-stick skillet and a teeny, tiny amount of butter. I put a tiny dollop in the pan (maybe 1/4 tsp) before making the first pancake, let it melt, and then wipe the pan down with a paper towel. I never grease again.

Patience is the key for making perfect pancakes. Leave them alone until the edges get dried looking and the bubbles start to "set" (meaning that when a bubble breaks, the hole does not collapse immediately). Stick your spatula under the pancake to check the browning. If all looks good, give it a flip. If you have trouble with your pancakes falling apart when you flip, chances are you are trying to flip too early.

If making a bunch of pancakes and want to keep them warm to serve all at once, stash the finished ones in a oven set to the lowest temperature possible.

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