Saturday, November 14, 2009

Someone's Grandma's Recipe, redux - Pancakes from Scratch

It’s really all Cheyenne’s fault, she was bragging about having pancakes one day and I started to crave them. I do feel compelled to note that Cheyenne is allowed to brag; she is a talented, smart, funny, beautiful, graceful and engaging young woman striking out on her own and she can brag about anything she wants. That being said, I was jealous that she had pancakes and I didn’t!

Now, I’ve always been proud of the fact that growing up, my mom really didn’t feed us pre-packaged anything. Food was made from scratch with fresh ingredients. I don’t remember how it came to be that I use pre-packaged foods, but I suspect it happened gradually, over time (like most bad habits form). Lately we’ve been trying to get away from the prepackaged food (I mean really, do you have any idea what is in that stuff??), but I don’t think I’ve ever made pancakes from scratch before.

Normally I use Bisquick, it’s easy, fast, and tastes fine. Unfortunately, I was out of Bisquick, and I kept forgetting to buy it. Not having any idea what went into a pancake batter if it didn’t come from a box, I consulted my good friend, Google, where I came across this little gem:

A quick check of the cupboards revealed that I did indeed have all the ingredients required to make pancakes from scratch, so my adventure began! Because I have a hard time taking orders, you just know I had to change the recipe a little….

First I assembled my wet team, and set them out to achieve room temperature (it’s a really important step, don’t skip it!)

The wet team consists of:
1 ½ cup milk (increased from recipe by ¼ cup, because the batter seemed pretty stiff)
1 Egg (jumbo)
3 Tablespoons butter, melted (yeah, I mean butter, like real butter!)
½ teaspoon REAL vanilla extract (an addition from the recipe, next time I might try almond extract)

While the wet team was getting all cozy and room temperature, I measured out and mixed the dry team:

1 ½ cups flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (reduced from recipe by ½)
1 Tablespoon Raw Sugar (recipe calls for white, I like the flavor of raw better)
2 shakes of ground nutmeg
2 shakes of allspice
(these last 2 were not called for in the recipe I found, but I’m a rebel, so I added them anyway)

After I assembled the dry team by putting them all in a large glass mixing bowl and mixing them together, I realized by wet team was still a little chilly. While waiting for them to warm up, I got bored, and I always get into trouble when I’m bored. In the freezer I found some frozen blueberries and though, “hrmmmm, blueberry syrup!”.

So, my Blue Team consisted of:

2 cups frozen blueberries
½ Cup of water
2 Tablespoons of honey
½ cap (perhaps a half teaspoon??) of the vanilla
4 shakes of ginger
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (melted in cold water)
About 2 tablespoons of raw sugar

Toss the blueberries in a saucepan and set to low-medium heat. Add the water, honey, vanilla and ginger. Once the berries begin to bubble a little (low simmer), you need to dissolve the cornstarch in a few tablespoons of cold water (just from the tap). I use my finger to mix it, because then I can tell all the lumps are completely gone. Weird (mostly unpleasant things) happen when you mix un-dissolved cornstarch into a hot mixture. This is the voice of experience, people, ignore at your peril.

Anywho, stir the dissolved cornstarch into the berries and crank up the heat a bit until you get a nice little low boil going.  You really only need for this to be at a low boil/strong simmer for a few minutes (a few, like 2), then you can shut off the heat and let it cool.

By now, your wet team has warmed up and is ready to come to the party (yes, I do watch too much Alton Brown, why do you ask??). So, make a little well in the center of dry ingredient mixture.

Add in the melted butter, milk and the egg (already beaten), then blend in until it is, well…. all wet. If you stir it too much the flour will glutenize and your pancakes will be a bit rubbery, so leave it a little lumpy. The reason I use a glass mixing bowl for this is because I can check the bottom of the bowl visually to make sure there are no large areas of unmixed flour.

You're now ready to commence cooking. I use a butter substitute for cooking pancakes. Butter burns too easily and cooking spray just don’t work as well for pancakes. I used my ½ cup measuring cup and only poured about ¼ cup (perhaps a little more) for each pancake, and came out with a baker’s dozen.

Dave has declared this pancake recipe “great!”, but wishes the blueberry syrup had been a little sweeter (it wasn’t very sweet, but I kind of liked that about it!).  I recommend turning on your favorite radio station and doing a little dancing and singing while you cook. I'm convinced it makes the food taste better.