Some people like them the traditional way, with butter and maple syrup.
Others lean in another direction and slather Nutella and peanut butter in between layers.
Nobody, it seems, likes his pancakes plain.
For many, pancakes are just the soaker or holder for whatever goes on top or in between a stack.
For serious fans of the cake flipped in a pan or griddle, it’s all about puff and fluff and the perfect degree of doneness and flavor created with the right blend flour, milk, eggs and leavener.
I grew up eating two kinds of pancakes, the flapjack kind and the thin, Swedish, egg-y kind, almost like crepes (but better). Flapjacks are simple compared with time-consuming Swedish pancakes, which are made one at a time in a skillet. (Truly authentic Nordic pancakes are slathered with butter, sprinkled with powdered sugar, then rolled up and topped with lingonberry jam.)
With Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday now behind us and Lent under way, many people will look for alternatives to serve on meatless Fridays. I suggest pancakes. Breakfast for dinner is ideal with them. Serve them dolled up with fresh fruit on top. Add nuts or special syrups. You can always add country fries or hashbrowns on the side.
For inspiration, I’ve included some topping recipes as well as a variety of pancake recipes.
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups blueberries
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Blend water, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, until cornstarch dissolves.
Add berries and raise heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
2. Puree the sauce until smooth. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve back into the saucepan. Return to medium heat and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon.
Sauce can be refrigerated up to 3 days. Reheat over low heat to serve. Enough to serve 4.
Betty Rosbottom, “Sunday Brunch”
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons maple syrup
Heat the butter and maple syrup in a small saucepan, until the butter has melted and blended with the syrup, 1-2 minutes. This can be done up to 2 hours ahead. Leave at room temperature and reheat, stirring over medium heat.) Serves 4.
Homemade Pancake Mix
10 cups flour
1/4 cup baking powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt well in a large bowl. Transfer to storage container; cover. Store the mix in a 4-quart plastic container with a tight-fitting lid in a cool, dark, dry place.
To make pancakes: Put 3 cups of the pancake mix into a bowl; stir in sugar to taste (from 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup).
Whisk 4 eggs in a medium bowl; whisk in 2 cups milk and 1/4 cup melted butter into the eggs.
Add the dry ingredients; stir until just incorporated.
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; swirl to coat. Ladle 1/4-cup batter for each pancake into the skillet. Cook until bubbles appear, about 2 1/2 minutes. Turn pancakes. Cook 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.
Makes 20 pancakes (using 2 tablespoons sugar), each with 118 calories, 4 grams fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 16 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 296 mg sodium.
Developed by Bill Daley of the Chicago Tribune and Chef Christopher Prosperi of Connecticut's Metro Bis restaurant
A puffy browned pancake served in a skillet creates a dramatic presentation. It will deflate quickly, so have everyone seated when it's ready.
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk, preferably at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, optional
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in a 10-inch oven-proof skillet over medium heat, tilting the pan to coat the sides. Meanwhile, whisk together the milk, flour, sugar, eggs and nutmeg in a bowl until smooth.
2. Pour the mixture into the skillet; cook 1 minute. Do not stir. Place the skillet in the oven; bake until the pancake is puffed and golden, 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar; serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings, each with 255 calories, 15 grams fat, 139 mg cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 49 mg sodium.
“Sweet Times” by Dorie Greenspan
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the griddle
Powdered sugar, to garnish
1. For the syrup, heat the butter and maple syrup in a small saucepan, until the butter has melted and blended with the syrup, 1-2 minutes. (Can be done up to 2 hours ahead. Leave at room temperature and reheat, stirring over medium heat.)
2. For the pancakes, whisk together the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, and whisk to combine.
3. Heat a griddle or large, heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Brush with just enough butter to coat the surface. Pour generous 1/4 cup measures of batter onto the griddle. Cook until bubbles appear on top and the pancakes are golden brown on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. Remove to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil. Repeat, adding more butter as needed. Serve with warm syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar. Serves 4.
Fresh Blueberry Pancakes
This pancake is best when made with fresh blueberries. The key to the recipe is to sprinkle the blueberries on the pancakes as they are cooking. (Do not mix the fruit into the batter.) For a thinner batter, add 1/4 cup more buttermilk.
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup (6 ounces) melted margarine or butter
1 pint blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar or maple syrup
1. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl; whisk in the buttermilk and margarine. Stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
2. Heat a greased skillet or griddle over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter per pancake into skillet. Place several fresh blueberries on top of the pancakes. Cook until bubbles form and bottoms are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn carefully; cook until set, about 2 minutes, then repeat with remaining batter. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 26 pancakes, each with 124 calories, 6 gram fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 14 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 295 mg sodium, 1 gram fiber.
2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a wire whisk. Mix in milk, flour, sugar, salt and melted butter.
Preheat a non-stick electric skillet to medium heat.* Pour a thin layer of batter on skillet, and spread to edges. Cook until top surface appears dry. Cut into 2 or 4 sections, and flip with a spatula. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Roll each pancake up and serve.
*A cast-iron skillet is excellent for Swedish pancakes, but you must maintain a medium-hot pan to get consistency. If you use a not-too-large skillet, you can flip a whole pancake and not have to cut it.
Tip: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and keep the rolled-up pancakes in between damp kitchen towels.