Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Our favorite pancakes.

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Mmmm, pancakes. Fluffy, lightly sweet and drenched in butter and real maple syrup - make mine Grade B. We love pancakes around here and can have them for breakfast or dinner. I used to buy the Krusteaz buttermilk mix which came closest to a delicious pancake until I stumbled across this recipe on the King Arthur site. It promised light and fluffy, whole grain pancakes. I know, usually whole grain pancakes are dense but not these. Ground oats reduce the amount of flour in the recipe and thus the gluten to make the most flavorful yet tender pancakes.

But the best part of this recipe? It makes a mix that you keep in the freezer. Whenever you want pancakes you pull out a cup of mix, add a cup of buttermilk, one egg, mix then rest and you're in business. If you want to be even more ahead of the game make an extra large batch and freeze the leftovers for a ready to nuke wholegrain breakfast.

Whole Grain Pancake Mix
adapted from King Arthur Flour

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
4 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil or melted butter - I prefer butter


First, pulse the rolled oats in the food processor until they are pretty finely ground.

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Dump the oat flour into your mixing bowl.

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Add the rest of the dry ingredients. See this shot? I was trying to show you how little difference there is in color between the white whole wheat (on the left) and the unbleached all purpose flour (on the right). No one will ever guess these are whole grain.

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Mix up the dry ingredients until well blended. Whatever you do, don't go into autpilot and crank up the mixer out of habit. Not that I know anything about that.

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Here's the dry mix. See how finely textured this is?

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Now grab the fat. Not your fat, the fat in the recipe. Like I said, I prefer butter for both flavor and final color.

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With the mixer on, (low remember?) drizzle in the melted butter until it's all mixed in.

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When all is said and done, the mix should resemble a dryish crumb topping.

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At this point, chuck the mix into a freezer container, label it and store in the freezer until you're ready to use.

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Now a word about buttermilk. It's very rare I have fresh buttermilk in the house. I usually keep this powdered buttermilk around for recipes that use either two cups or less.

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However, when I make these pancakes I usually make no less than four cups of mix at a time so I use the milk and vinegar shortcut.

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First, measure out a tablespoon of vinegar for every cup of buttermilk you need. Pour that into your liquid measuring cup.

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Then fill with milk until you reach the line. Let it sit for five minutes and you have a substitute for buttermilk. No you won't taste the vinegar. You can also use lemon juice instead of vinegar but if I'm out of buttermilk it's pretty unlikely I have fresh lemons around either.

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On to making the pancake batter. Measure out your mix.

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Add the beaten eggs.

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Finally your buttermilk or buttermilk-in-a-pinch. Mix it up.

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The batter will be very runny. You'll be scared and want to throttle me through the computer screen. Do not despair. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

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After 30 minutes the change is amazing. The oats will have soaked up the moisture and softened, as well as plumped up while the bran in the whole wheat flour will have softened as well.

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See how thick the batter is after the rest period?

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Now set up your favorite pan or griddle. Mine is a cast iron flat griddle pan that is supremely well seasoned (that's code for we fry a lot of stuff on it). I heat mine on a medium low setting (about a 3 on my 1-10 electric stove dial). Heat your pan up to about 350 degrees or the setting you've found works best for pancakes in your situation. You know the drill, hot enough to cook the center but not so hot it burns.

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While my pan is heating let me introduce you to my ladle. I love my ladle. For years I stubbornly tried to make do with deep spoons and poo-pooed Mr. Maricucu's suggestion that we needed a ladle. I know, sometimes I'm just irrationally stubborn.

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Why is this my favorite ladle? Check out these markings. Half a ladle full is 1/4 cup and a whole ladle full is 1/2 cup. Great for soups and great for large pancakes plus the handle is super sturdy. Love it.

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So the griddle is hot and I add a bit of butter. I only butter the griddle about every 6-8 pancakes.

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Add about a 1/2 cup of batter. This makes a nice plate sized pancake and keeps the boys busy eating long enough for me to make seconds. Yes, their appetites lately are insane.

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Let the pancake cook until the edges start to look dry, there are some bubbles on top and if you lightly tuck the spatula underneath it's browned just right.

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Then flip it with a flourish. Or maybe not a flourish if a guy named Murphy likes to visit your kitchen often.

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Mmmmmm. Tender, even more tender than traditional pancakes. Fluffy and golden brown.

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Add a bit of butter.

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Then drizzle with maple syrup - ooooh blurry shot.

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And enjoy. Rinse, then repeat. The best part is that although they are light as air, these pancakes won't have you crashing from a carb induced high a few hours later. They are satisfying as well as tasty.

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Like I said, these freeze very well. To reheat I put them in one layer on a plate, spread a little butter on top and nuke them for a minute or until the center is hot. Just as good as fresh.

2 comments:

Stacy said...

Those look yummy! Pancakes are breakfast-or-dinner around here too - so much so that my kids thought they were only dinner food until they were about five. I'm not much of a morning cooker.

I love that ladle - I use a 1/2 cup measuring cup for my pancakes, but I have to be very careful about the handle slipping into the batter. I never thought of a ladle (duh.) Thanks!

Marielle said...

That's so funny about the boys thinking they were dinner food. I'm not too much of a morning cook either (think walking with one eye open).