Sunday, January 17, 2010

Evan's Pancakes, or How You'll Never Need to Buy Pancake Mix Again.

Evan here. Yes, I cook, too. While most of my cooking lately has involved rice, corn dogs, chili, and playing with fire at the grill, I used to do much more. However, most importantly, I cook pancakes.

Have you ever read about how dry pancake mix can turn bad after a period of time? I don't remember what it does, but I do recall hearing about someone dying from it. It's probably the dried eggs. That disturbing news and the fact that "just adding water" didn't seem right to me, made me search for making pancakes from scratch. I've been making these almost every weekend (except for 5 months this year. Alabama, no stove, no family...) for three years.

The recipe that follows is my conglomeration of several. I went through a lot that just didn't work right. This does:

1C Flour (don't use whole grain or Hungarian doesn't work with this one and you'll get a disgusting paste)
2T Sugar
2t Baking Powder
1/2t Salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
2T vegetable oil
Milk (about a cup, depending on how thick you want them)
1/2t vanilla extract

A few things make this recipe work better than the others. First off, you can adjust the thickness by adjusting the amount of milk. This works well not only for different stoves, but also if you are making pancakes for different people with different tastes. Make the first half thick, the next half thin. Have at it!

Second, it is incredibly easy to double.

Start by combining the dry ingredients. On another flour note, don't re-sift pre-sifted flour. I have no idea why; just don't.

Add 2T sugar. When you're attempting to make this recipe (from memory for the first time) at your sister's house, don't misremember and add 4T of sugar. Blech.

Then add the salt and baking powder. Don't forget either. Every now and then, since I make these in the morning, depending on when Julia makes me get up, I may or may not have forgotten to add baking powder. You will remember quickly when you start to cook them. If this unfortunate thing happens to you, do not fret! Just add in the baking powder later when you remember.

Nicely blend the dry ingredients. Remember that flour has a tendency to fly everywhere. Don't be too much of a tough guy.

In a separate bowl, break the egg and add the 2T of oil. A lot of recipes call for butter in varying degrees of melt. It took switching to oil to make these work. Ignore the butter.

Toss in the vanilla and pour some portion of the milk. You could pour all 1C of the milk in if you want, but clearly my bowl isn't big enough.

Fluff with fork. Remember, you aren't making scrambled eggs. For whatever reason, it works best to basically break the yolk and some of the white's membranes and stop at that point.

Slowly add the liquids to the mixed dry ingredients. Stir the bowl with one hand while you pour with the other. This adds more air to the mix. I clearly couldn't do this at first, as I was taking a picture.

One nicely mixed, there will probably be some lumps. This is okay. At this point, I turn the stove and oven on. This lets the mix sit. It doesn't rise per se (mostly because there is no yeast), but it does better if it sits for a few minutes rather than being cooked immediately.

I turn the griddle on as high as it will go and the oven on at about 180. This is to have a nice warm place to keep the pancakes when each is done cooking. If you're using it for something (like bacon!), just keep them sandwiched between two plates on the stove. Good enough.

When it's hot enough a drop of water will immediately evaporate. Now turn the burner down to about medium heat and wait a minute.

Pour about 1/3 a cup per pancake. If you have a thicker batter, make sure it gets spread out somewhat or you'll burn the outside and have goo on the inside, like this failure:

Because I turn the burner on so high to make sure it's hot enough, I inevitably burn the first one. I accept this. Just feed it to the garbage disposal.

Watch the bubbles. Once enough of them pop (half?) and don't close back up, flip it. Flip with speed and authority—you look cooler that way.

Once you figure out how hot your electric stove has decided each setting will be today, they should be a nice golden brown.

For whatever reason, Elisabeth loves tiny pancakes. So, make a few and make the kids happy.

Towards the end, I am hungry and bored with cooking pancakes. So I dump the rest of the mix and make myself a GIANT pancake. Normally, it is as big as the skillet, but I must have had more patience than usual this time. I love my giant pancake.

I doubled this batch, so if you make the recipe as I spelled it out above, your pile won't be so big. And if you don't make a hilarious assortment of sizes, your pile will fall down.

So that's that. We microwave the syrup, make some eggs (scrambled for the girls, over-easy (and deadly runny) for Virginia, and either over-medium or poached for me. Perhaps I'll post how I poach eggs sometime.

I highly recommend doubling the pancake recipe. One, you'll ruin the first one. If you have enough batter, this won't make you mad. And two, I've also developed a trick to keep them around for the week. Get a gallon freezer bag and lots of 5" squares of wax paper. Whatever you didn't eat, just put in the bag, with the wax paper between each pancake to prevent them sticking to each other. You can pop these in the toaster throughout the week, forgoing your Eggo waffles forever.
And besides, they might even be better that way.

In all, these pancakes are a great family tradition we have. Elisabeth will frequently help me make them. I hope it's something the girls associate with me for a long time and, perhaps, look back at whenever they are on their own.

It's also been a great illustration of why you don't need to go and buy that extra box at the store just to make something you can quite easily make with ingredients you already have on hand.

And if you don't make them too often, not using that three year old box of dried pancake mix might just save your life.

How's that for a dramatic pancake?

1 comment:

  1. Your pancakes are almost as good as Hungry Jack extra fluffy in the George foreman smothered in applesauce.

    I lived off those (and peas) in college.