Mmmm…pancakes

Pancakes

Last night for supper, I made buckwheat and pecan pancakes with grilled apples.  With one fried egg.   I didn’t bother to make the pancake batter from scratch, since I very much like the buckwheat mix made by Krusteaz.   Chopped the pecans and stirred them into the dry mix, then sliced an apple very thinly. While the pancakes baked on the electric griddle, I let the apples, sprinkled with nutmeg, carmelize on the other side, and just when it was all nearly completely finished, fried the egg. 
The egg was fresh, the apples not too sweet, the buckwheat hearty and nutty.  Wonderful! It made me start thinking of pancakes. 
Pancakes have always been one of my big favorites.  When we were children, my parents sometimes took us to IHOP and we’d all go insane over the choices—blueberry! No, chocolate! No, silver dollar pancakes, those adorable little things, that came neatly stacked in piles of ten.  My favorite was always buckwheat, which I liked for the flavor and color, but even more because it astonished adults that a girl, a little girl liked them.  That astonishment made me feel clever, intriguing, mysterious–Who is that little girl there, the one who likes buckwheat instead of chocolate?–but mainly, I just loved the hearty smell and flavor, the substantial depth of a buckwheat pancake on my plate, in my mouth, hot and solid in my belly. In France last summer, I feasted on a buckwheat pancake near the Normandy beaches and they set up my passion for them again.  I’ve been making them a lot.

Pancakes are given short shrift, I think.  The very first thing I ever learned to cook was pancakes in the shape of letters and animals, out of my Betty Crocker’s Cookbook For Boys and Girls (how adorable they were! Bears and C’s and little faces!).   As a college student, I often took my books to Denny’s and studied over a supper of pancakes and endless cups of coffee.  It was a treat, a way to be alone and not alone, eating something that gave me comfort while I crammed for finals.   

When my boys came along, I cooked a hot breakfast for them every morning.  Now, this was not some self-sacrificing obnoxiousness on my part.  They were very picky eaters. They needed to have a good breakfast because sometimes I knew they didn’t eat school lunches at all.  And it is also true that I am a naturally early riser. In those days, I was often awake and moving by five, so by the time I needed to get them up for school, it was no problem to have breakfast ready and hot.  (I’m also not, for the record, one of those people who think eggs are suspicious.  They’re a power food, packed with nutrition, and a really great way to feed children.) 

I cycled through a small selection-scrambled eggs and broiled cinnamon toast; French toast with vanilla and cinnamon, and pancakes.  My younger boy, the pickiest eater on the planet, didn’t like fancy pancakes, but the older one loved sophisticated offerings like a recipe I found in Martha Stewart magazine for pancakes with carmelized pears in the middle of them-they were so lovely! (Who is that little boy who likes the grilled pear pancakes?)  I’ve actually lost that recipe and would like to find it again, if anyone knows it. 
Happily, Christopher Robin also enjoys breakfast for supper, and he was delighted by the buckwheat, apple, and pecan pancakes when he came in late and tired and ready to relax.
As I washed up the dishes, I thought of how much I love pancakes, and I ask you:

Do you have a favorite pancake or pancake story?  Do you have a family pancake recipe that’s to die for?  What did you pick at the International House of Pancakes when you were ten?
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19 thoughts on “Mmmm…pancakes

  1. Mel

    My 10 year old self always ordered the silver dollar pancakes and I used the Boysenberry Syrup.

    Oh I LOVE that syrup. And no other Boysenberry syrup will ever equal the IHOP syrup.

    We often make breakfast for supper in our house. I’m a biscuits and gravy fan (white gravy made from bacon grease not sausage). We’ll cook up a mess of biscuits and gravy, a bunch of bacon with our eggs over-easy. Everyone is happy.

    Now I’m hungry.

  2. Once again, your blog continues to be prescient. We just went to IHOP last night for the first time in a while. The black bean chili omelette is GREAT, with pancakes as a side. MMM.

    As a kid, I admit to getting the funny face pancake – the one with whipped cream and chocolate chips. Soon after than I transitioned to the Rooty Tooty Fresh n’Fruity with strawberry pancakes – and only recently, once my sausage days are over, to the omelette. Still very fond of the potato pancakes, too. Pancakes are just so comforting.

  3. I’m a french toast kind of girl myself. Pancakes make my tummy cranky for some reason, although I do make them for the family and eat them, and boy, can I make a mean one. (No ugly practice pancakes for me…I’ve got it down to an art if I do say so myself!) We like B-F-S, too, Mel.

    BUT, when I was a little girl, I always ordered oatmeal when we went out for breakfast. All the things I could have had, and I ordered oatmeal. My mom still tells people that. :) I think it must have made me feel mysterious as well, because I feel proud of it to this day. And still love oatmeal, although I rarely eat it these days.

    Now, at a B&B in Rhode Island last year, we had some heavenly pumpkin pancakes.

  4. I love vanilla pancakes with sliced banana on top. And Jean Paul (at Le Temps) has got a FABULOUS buckwheat crepe with caramel sauce on the menu–I only have them rarely because they’re soooo rich. I also think the suspicion over eggs is silly. My best functioning days are when I have scrambled eggs for breakfast.

  5. During the no meat on Friday lents as a kid we’d have french toast or pancakes for dinner on Friday evenings. Mom would fix some fish dish for she and dad but we got pancakes or french toast on TV trays and the Flintstones. I still have friends who remember coming over on Fridays and getting pancakes or french toast for dinner who thought it was totally awesome that I had a Mom who let us have breakfast for dinner.

  6. Oh, I love these comments and memories! More, more.

    I just thought of another fantastic pancake for those who like Santa Fe: the blue corn and pinon nut pancakes at The Plaza Cafe.

    Mel, oh, yum biscuits and gravy. Andrea, the rooty-tooty pancakes were always Miles’s favs. Julie, that’s so funny, the oatmeal. (You mysterious girl, you!) Gabrielle, yes, those buckwheat crepes. That’s what I had in Normandy, not with caramel, but with cheese. To. Die. For. Rose, yeah, yeah, yeah! Cartoons and French toast for supper!

  7. My dad made me pancakes for nearly every special occasion. He’d always pile my plate way too high and encourage me to eat them all. I woke up many special mornings with the smell of cakes hot on the griddle.

    When I was a kid, I liked to put very light butter on them and then roll them up and eat it with my hands. But I’ve never liked syrup.

  8. Mmmm… pancakes. I adore them. Although I confess, I’m also partial to a light, yet hearty egg torta made with green pepper and onion and deep fried potatoes.

    However, since the topic is pancakes, pancakes I shall give you. I collect cookbooks, specifically American regional cookbooks– I collect everything from Junior League to church league cookbooks, to superstar chef cookbooks– the collection is currently over 800. Anyhowhis recipe is easily one of the most decadent, divine pancake recipes ever– it comes from Bradley Ogden, proprieter of the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, CA and who was in that wave of “superstar” chefs of the late 80s/early 90s. This recipe is from his cookbook, BREAKFAST, LUNCH, & DINNER

    Banana-Sour Cream Hotcakes (and I’m laughing looking at the page and all the stains on it).

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (I always put way more than this in)
    2-3 ripe mashed bananas combined with 2 tsps lemon juice.
    1 egg, separated
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    grated zest of 1 lemon

    In a large mixing bowl sift together the dry in gredients. In a medium bowl, combine the bananas, egg yolk, sour cream, milk, vanilla, melted butter, and lemon zest. (I often skip the zest if I don’t have a fresh lemon around– I might put in a drop or two of lemon oil instead.)

    Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until the dry ingredients are just moistened.

    In a small, dry, clean bowl, whip the egg white until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the batter until just a few traces of egg white remain visible– don’t overmix. Drop by scant 1/4 cups onto hot griddle and cook. Garnish with banana slices

    These are beautiful and so light, yet solid and filling at the same time, it’s amazing. Definitely my favorite, favorite pancake in the world– and I like serving mine with guava jelly and/or pineapple, if I feel like going tropical.

  9. Oh, my, dinner is not long past, but reading this blog and comments makes me hungry all over again! I was a great fan of the potato pancakes at Perkins, a chain in the Northeast, and I wish there was one near me now. They were thin and supple, lovely with sour cream, crisp bacon, and maybe some applesauce on the side.

    Some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had were at a B&B in in Vancouver’s West End. They were made with lemon zest, and divine. Recently I discovered a whole grain pancake and waffle flour from Bob’s Red Mill, and they make a lovely, flavorful pancake. (I try to avoid foods with too high a glycemic index.)

    I’m another egg eater–I never believed they were evil, and I’m glad they’ve now been rehabilitated. :) Most mornings, my breakfast is a poached egg on whole grain toast. Nicely balanced, and easy it make in my sleep, since I am NOT a morning person!

    Mary Jo, who needs to pick up some pecans for this Sunday’s waffles…

  10. Oh, Barbara, what a lovely recipe! I must, must try that recipe. Thank you. (My mother collects cookbooks, too, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have 800. Wow.)

    HB–your dad looks like a guy who would make pancakes for his daughter. I’m not so huge on syrup all the time, either.

    Potato pancakes figure into the book in progress Mary Jo. My favorite aunt makes fantastic latkes. Fantastic, I tell you. (She’s an amazing cook all around)

  11. They’re a wonderful recipe, Barbara–I honestly think the true genius of them lies in the sour cream giving a real sense of substance while the folded in egg white counterbalances that with a lovely lightness.

    As far as the 800 cookbooks, well, go to a few church sales or garage sales or used bookstores and it’s amazing how quickly you can pile them up. I have some absolutely fantastic antique cookbooks too– product & company cookbooks from the 50s and 60s, a Joy of Cooking from 1943 that has wartime rationing exchanges, and a hysterical little cookbook from the Wiedemann’s Beer company, dated 1912, that opens with a “Letter to the Lady of the House” and goes on to discuss how beer is healthful and will rejuvenate your husbands and sons at the end of a long, tiring day at work, so when they come home and put their feet up, be sure to serve them an ice cold glass of Wiedemann’s Beer. :-) One of these days, I need to work antique cookbooks into a story.

  12. Love pancakes. In the era before children, my hubby and I thought about compiling our bajillion pancake recipes into a cookbook. We usually worked with a cornmeal base, which makes a pancake with a nice crisp bite, and then experimented with whatever was in the kitchen. Our specialty was a dinner pancake with small chunks of chicken and asparagus integrated and covered with a med-thin tomato sauce. We also made a potato-apple pancake that I loved, but we never really perfected it; it was always a little runny.

    I don’t make any of them much anymore; my kids prefer waffles.

  13. Therese, that cornmeal base sounds very appealing, esp the chicken and asparagus!

  14. I’m happy to share the base recipe. We never wrote down our add-ins; we just played with whatever we wanted to try that day/night. Here’s the recipe for crisp cornmeal cakes:

    1 c. cornmeal
    1/2 c. flour
    1 Tbs. baking powder
    1 Tbs. sugar
    3/4 tsp. salt
    1 c. milk
    1 egg
    veg oil

    Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Combine milk, egg and 1 Tbs. oil. Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients until just smooth. Pour about 1/4″ oil into large fry pan over medium heat. (You can also use a generous amount of heart-smart margarine, our new spin.) When hot, spoon batter into pan by heaping tablespoonfuls. Spread out slightly. Cook until brown. Turn and cook until brown and crisp on the other side. Continue with rest of batter, thinning with milk or water if it becomes too thick.

    Great with bananas, berries and syrup; equally yummy with savory stuff added and served with different sauces or even salsa.

  15. Suzanne

    You are bringing back such lovely childhood memories of waking up in my grandmother’s house to the smell of buckwheat pancakes sizzling on the griddle! I love them to this day. Sadly, my family prefers my buttermilk pancakes–here’s the very simple recipe:

    2 tbs. butter
    1c flour
    2 tbs sugar
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 c buttermilk
    1 egg

    Mix dry ingredients. Melt butter and combine with buttermilk and egg and stir into dry ingredients until just smooth.

    These are soooo delicious! You can toss in chocolate chips, blueberries, banana slices, nuts, whatever. I have tried to convert my family over to the buckwheat, but they’re not having any of it.

    And one of my favorite memories is a miserable trip to France my husband and I took. He, the world traveler, would not go to that country. I, a true francophile, insisted he see it through my eyes. It was one of those trips–nothing went right. Every prejudice he had was reinforced. Finally, I threw off all my plans, rented a car, and took him to see Mont St. Michel. On the way back to Paris, we were starving and as we passed through a small town in Brittany, we stopped at a little restaurant and found heaven on earth! These buckwheat crepes were melt in your mouth delicious, sprinkled with fairy dust from the Food Gods. DELICIOUS. Galettes, they are called. I would go back just for that.

  16. Oooh, thank you, thank you, thank you for the recipes!! I’m going to try them all.

    Suzanne, yes, gallettes. I couldn’t come up with the word. I can see myself sitting in that cafe with the surf pounding outside and our big, beefy, earthy French driver telling me that coffee is generally reserved for after a meal in France. :)

    HEAVENLY. I must learn to make them the French way.

  17. Suzanne

    Here’s the galette recipe, Barbara:

    1 cup buckwheat flour
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    4 large eggs
    1 cup milk
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    4 tablespoons butter, melted
    Generous sprinkling of Brittany fairy dust

    1. In the jar of a blender, blend the flour, eggs, milk, salt and melted butter with three-fourths cup water at high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides midway with a spatula. Strain the batter through a fine-mesh sieve.

    2. Cover and let rest, refrigerated, for at least an hour, or overnight.

    And then just cook the crepes.

  18. Oooh, I’m going to try the gallettes this weekend! Supper on Sunday night, mayhaps. I’ll have to make do without the fairy dust, but I bet they’ll be delicious anyway. Thanks, Suzanne!

  19. Destiny Madere

    A nice recpe idea you have here. I am always looking for more ideas to keep the kids entertained with and this one might just do the trick so thank you for sharing it.

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