It’s been a hectic few weeks here, laden with much travel in several directions by different factions of our family. So home cooking’s been a bit repetitive and somewhat functional — lots of tofu (mostly in the form of the fabulous staple Golden Bowl, using Grit Tofu, courtesy of the Grit Cookbook). I did have the pleasure of eating some fantastic pastries in Durham, NC, last week, at a dreamy German bakery called Guglhupf (thanks, Megan!). All I can really say is that it is a bakery with the power to change any prejudice you might have against, say, danishes. Because I’m not a huge danish fan — but, Oh, My. Talk about perfection in pastry. And I had one (ok, almost two) of their Cream Puffs, just before hitting the road back to Athens. Even with the sugar crash that caused me to become so drowsy I resorted to pinching my own face to stay awake on the road, I’d still be tempted to eat them daily if I lived within a half-mile radius.
Anyway — pancakes. For Father’s Day. Since Tim was so accommodating to me on my parental holiday, I included breakfast and sleeping-in as part of his June 17 itinerary. He didn’t take quite as much advantage of the extra sleep as I did, and we were in need of a grocery store run, so the breakfast options were a bit limited. But we do love our pancakes, and he seemed quite content to pick that as his only top choice.
I think I speak for both of us when I say that our VERY favorite pancake recipe is from a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated: Multigrain Pancakes (11/2006). We are not big on regular, white-flour buttermilk pancakes, not because they aren’t delicate and delicious, but because when we consume them we end up feeling like we had a tryptophan overdose, and are also somehow hungry at the same time. The Cook’s Multigrain Pancakes are both delicate and complex, but are a bit labor-intensive and can even be expensive. Hungry for a cheap and easy whole-grain pancake that didn’t have the texture and flavor of potting soil, we tried out the Grit’s recipe (yes, it’s in their cookbook, and no, I don’t have any financial ties to the restaurant). It’s a winner. My disclaimer is that we use freshly-ground soft red whole wheat flour — my friend Melissa has a grain mill, and provides me with fresh flour for all my whole-grain baked goods. I do think this makes a difference in the texture and flavor, since whole grain flour goes rancid so quickly. Knowing that not everyone has a grain mill sitting around collecting dust (and if you do, please CONTACT ME and I’ll gladly take it off your hands!), a good substitute could be King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat flour. The details:
Carter Favorite Pancakes
adapted from The Grit Cookbook, by Jessica Greene and Ted Hafer
- 2 cups White Whole Wheat flour (or, 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet. Stir (very gently!) the wet ingredients into the dry just until blended. Batter can still be lumpy — if you over-mix it, the pancakes will end up tough.
Make sure your nonstick skillet or griddle is hot enough that water flicks sizzle on the surface. I use spray-on canola, then pour on 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake. (Note: if you want to add fresh fruit or nuts to your pancakes, this is a good time to do it. We drop blueberries, thinly sliced bananas, or pecan pieces into the cake as it cooks.) Once you start to see bubbles, you can partially lift the cake with a spatula to see if it’s brown enough. Once the color suits you, flip it. Eat them right away, with warmed pure maple syrup (grade B maple syrup is our favorite, and you can buy it in bulk at most whole food stores).
Incidentally, we usually end up with a few leftover pancakes. We let them cool, then stick them in a ziplock in the fridge. Within the next day or two, they can be reheated in a toaster oven on your favorite toast setting, and taste almost as good as the day you made them.