I wonder how many pancakes I’ve flipped- it must be in the thousands by now! Pancakes were a quick, inexpensive way to feed five hungry kids, usually for breakfast, but they also served well for dinner on nights I was tight on time, energy or procrastinated grocery shopping. Many times we fed large crowds piles of pancakes; it was the simplest and cheapest way to feed lots of visitors we spontaneously invited for lunch after church. No one ever complained! Pancakes allowed us to offer hospitality without preplanning and a big budget.
The smell of pancakes is now quite nostalgic, taking me back to the chaos, volume, mess and laughter of a full house. Our family picked gallons of low bush blueberries in the arctic tundra every summer, and we ground all our own grain (wheat and spelt usually) so the nutrition level was a bit above the usual Krusteaz or Bisquick mix, as was the flavor. During this quarantine time I’ve moved in with my son and daughter in law and she (along with her twin) has become fixated on Sunday morning pancake feasts. My extra-large electric griddle is packed away, so I’m simultaneously using two cast iron skillets and frying big pancakes the size of the pans for more efficient use of time. There are fresh strawberries from local farms flowing into the grocery stores- my favorite, but most of these grown up kids want chocolate chip! Over the years I’ve tried dozens of recipes, always looking for the fluffiest possible cake, and this one is our favorite.
2 cups flour (we use whole wheat or spelt, but white will do)
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 cups milk (rice, almond, coconut- whatever you like)
1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil (you can also use olive oil)
opt- 1 tsp vanilla
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
Whisk eggs in quart size mixing bowl and then add butter and milk (and vanilla if using)
Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and briefly stir. It’s important to not overmix (that develops gluten and makes the cakes tough instead of fluffy) The batter may still be slightly lumpy, that’s just fine.
Pour onto hot griddle, wait 1-2 minutes until bubbles form and then flip, cooking another 1- 2 minutes until fully cooked.
I always at least double this recipe. If you end up with extra, they are great snacks and also freeze well for later.
Getting the temperature of the pan just right is important- it needs to be quite hot but not to the point of burning the outside before the inside is finished. This takes a bit of practice- be patient. I love cast iron, but it tends to continue to heat up, so I have to pay attention and turn the heat down a tad after a few rounds.
We usually add chocolate chips or blueberries (I sprinkle them on top while the first side is cooking, I find this the easiest way to evenly apply additions instead of mixing into the batter)
Another favorite is sliced bananas, toasted pecans (or mac nuts when living in Kona) and toasted flaked coconut on top.
(Don’t tell the kids, but I usually add 1/3 cup of ground flaxseed to the mix for added nutrition)
I hope you have some friends and/or lonely neighbors over and perfect your pancake flipping! Or host a pancake potluck where they bring mix-ins and toppings. I think right now we all appreciate comfort food and human interaction. Bring on the batter!