Here’s the thing. I don’t really like pancakes that much. I am not into the whole spongy, doughy, eggy sweet thing for breakfast. I mean, pancakes are alright I suppose… but I have never ordered them in a restaurant. Also, pancake mixes are for chumps. Not only do the cost an unreasonable amount of money, but they are filled with utter and absolute crap, the worst of which is hydrogenated fats, the one ingredient aside from sea urchin I will not knowingly eat.
I am in no way a food purist, but I believe in cooking with whole ingredients.
I also believe food should be healthy as possible while at the same time be as tasty as possible. Food that has been processed as little as possible is probably better for you in the long run. That said I also enjoy the occasional “this will eventually kill you” treat and am not beyond, say, munching on a hot dog — probably the unhealthiest, most processed, and most additive-laden of foods known on God’s green Earth — while shopping for locally grown, cruelty-free organic produce and leash-trained, free range, hemp-fed meats.
So a while ago I was fishing around for a good breakfast to make for a lot of people and came on the idea of making a mess of pancakes with some crisp bacon on the side… because bacon is just one of those things that makes life better. I started out with a recipe in The Joy of Cooking or maybe The Betty Crocker Cookbook figuring that when I am making a food I don’t have a lot of background with, it’s a good idea to start by following a recipe rather than willy-nilly pulling some inedible concoction out of my ass.
Long story short, whatever standard recipe I found didn’t really knock my socks off, but it did show me the basic technique and make me realize that pancakes are a very forgiving recipe that you can do pretty much anything with.
With that, I offer for your weekend mornings:
My Goddamn Good Pancakes!
Your ingredient list looks like this:
- 1.25 cups flour
- .25 cup wheat germ (optional, but it adds a bit of something to this that just works. Plus wheat germ is one of the few things in this recipe that is a source of actual nutrition)
- 4 tbl powdered buttermilk(*)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tbl sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 2.5 cups nonfat milk(*)
- 1 tbl vanilla
(*) You can also just use 2.5 cups of buttermilk, but that means having a bunch of buttermilk on hand, which is fine I suppose. But I find the dried buttermilk keeps well in the freezer.
And before going any further, I need to say something about maple syrup. In short, don’t fuck around. Unless you have some medical reason not to use real maple syrup like diabetes or an allergy to maple, use real maple syrup. Don’t “maple flavored” syrups, for keerissakes. They taste like ass in comparison, and, frankly, there is no compelling reason to use them. Yeah, real maple syrup costs a bit more. Indulge. This is an extremely inexpensive breakfast, and having one ingredient that costs a bit more isn’t going to break the bank.
Another thing about maple syrup is that the stuff labeled “Grade B” is a lot more flavorful than the “Grade A” stuff. This is counterintuitive as hell, but given the extremely weird mindset of the folks who figured out maple syrup I figure there has got to be some logic behind it. Finally, if you don’t like maple syrup that’s fine. But please don’t sully My Goddamn Good Pancakes with artificial syrups. Hint: if the first ingredient has the words “corn syrup,” it’s crap.
And with that aside out of the way, here’s what you want to do. Mix the dry ingredients until they are all smooth and whatnot. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients until they are all smooth and whatnot. Now mix the dry and the wet ingredients together and stir until smooth. Voila! You have batter! i tend to like the batter a bit on the runny side rather than all biscuit-like so that the final result is thin, like a crepe, rather than thick like an IHOP commercial.
Now you get to cook the things. This is easy save for one detail. The first pancake never comes out right. I don’t know whet the hell it is all about, so I have added it to my overall cosmology in that that it is a sacrifice to the pancake deities. So with the knowledge you are going to be throwing the 1st pancake away or feeding it to your dog or the birds, heat up a nonstick pan.
In theory, cooking pancakes is easy. In practice it isn’t. There are a lot of variables to consider: the thickness of your pan, the viscosity of the batter, the BTUs your stove puts out, the relative humidity, how hung over you are. If I hadn’t failed pretty much every math course I have ever taken, I might be able to divine a formula for the cooking technique. But that just ain’t in the cards.
Suffice it to say, get the pan warned up. I find that on my gas stove, the “medium” setting is the best place for this. Once it is hot, pour in about a third of a cup of batter. You will flip it when it starts to develop a bunch of popped bubbles… kind of like when it looks like Edward James Olmos’ face. Flip it, wait a minute, and plate it. Keep doing this until you are out of batter.
And that’s pretty much it. I like a bunch of bacon or sausage on the side, because as an American I am culturally supposed to be attracted to the combination of sugar, fat, salt, meat, and carbohydrates that is this breakfast. Any left overs can be frozen or kept in a plastic bag for reheating for about a week.