The regulars around here will know that I mention pancakes from time to time, as in, “Daddy made pancakes for breakfast again!” People tell me “offline” that they really like my pancake posts — and I didn’t even realize I had any kind of theme going. But I’ve mentioned pancakes as a Sunday morning family activity, a theme which made my open letter to Stuart McLean. Not to mention the Shrove Tuesday tradition of the Pancake Turtle. In these and other posts, I’ve mentioned that I make pancakes for the kids, who are generally thrilled by the whole affair and have been known to issue special requests on a not entirely infrequent basis now. So considering all this and by no demand whatsoever, I’m going to offer my very own pancake recipe for general consumption.
But I’m publishing it with a challenge for the dads… make pancakes for your kids on New Year’s Day. Start a tradition, shock your wife, and be a hero to your kids.
So a few years back in my ‘graduation’ from mix to scratch-made pancake batter, I was in search of a recipe that was somewhat unique, produced the style of pancakes I like, and was easy enough for me to handle. In the end, I pulled together elements and ideas from several different recipes to come up with my own hybrid. The recipe makes it look like more work than it really is.
* 1 2/3 cups flour
* 1 cup oat bran (substitute 1 cup flour if you have to)
* 2 tbsp (6 tsp) baking powder (heap a little when using oat bran, level without)
* 1 tsp salt
* ½ cup (6 tbsp) brown sugar (I’ve been known to heap mine generously)
In a good-sized bowl (10-12 cups), mix the dry ingredients gently with a whisk, also using it to remove any lumps. Then grab a separate bowl for the wet ingredients.
* 2 eggs (grab that whisk and beat them)
* 2½ cups milk
* ½ tsp vanilla (I never actually measure, and probably use double this amount)
* ¼ cup (6 tbsp) vegetable oil
* maple extract (optional, just a dash should do it; use this one in particular if you don’t have real maple syrup)
Once you’ve got the wet ingredients blended together, you can mix them into the dry ingredients in the larger bowl. The old Five Roses Flour book says that the secret of tender pancakes or waffles is to stir the batter only until dry ingredients are just blended, which leaves the batter a bit lumpy — this proves to be good advice, and should be followed.
Note — the amount of milk added will largely determine the balance of how thick the pancakes are; I like mine to rise and be a good ¼” thick at minimum… decreasing the amount of milk slightly will produce this, while getting extra will produce a thin batter. The baking powder will cause the batter to rise in the bowl once you finish stirring and wait for the grill to heat up. You’ll also notice the batter and pancakes are darker than what you normally see.
* 2 tsp cinnamon (blend in with dry ingredients) — do this particularly if you’re going to top with hot apples, or if you’re doing them otherwise “plain.”
* add a cereal-bowl full of blueberries, stir in gently (not too much mixing) after you’ve blended the wet and dry ingredients together.
* Oreo Cookies — I’ve yet to try this one, but you can add some crushed Oreo cookies to the batter, and serve them in “pairs”, stacked with whipped cream between them.
* “Little Bears” — pictured, a real hit with the younger kids and worth some serious “Dad-points.” The trick is in dropping the extra dollops of batter for the ears onto the grill so that they connect, but don’t simply enlarge the “head” and make an oblong shape. Grab a marshmallow and cut it in two so to make a sort round muzzle for the bear. In the photo above, I’ve inserted an upside-down chocolate chip for the nose. Blueberries or chocolate chips inserted while cooking make good eyes.
Once again, the old Five Roses Flour book recommends a heavy iron or aluminum frying pan or griddle for pancakes. You know it’s hot enough when drops of water flicked onto its surface dance around a bit. Too cool and the pancakes will be flat and tough; too hot and they will brown on the outside before the middle is cooked. Cook pancakes until the top side is full of bubbles, then turn to the other side, which generally doesn’t take as long to cook; you’ll notice the middle of the pancake rise. Turn them only once, don’t flip them over and over. Note if your batter is nice and thick, you may not see bubbles through to the middle of the pancake, just closer to the edges.
Makes 15-18 4-5″ pancakes — about the size of a CD or DVD. We always have a couple left over that the kids will save for lunch.
Okay, fellow Dads, there you have it. Be a hero in your home and impress your dude-friends! Let me know how it goes.