In search of the perfect pancake

Pancakes were probably the first food I learned to make from scratch. In part because my sister has the best darned “Griddle Cake” recipe I’d ever tasted, and in part because I love cooked breakfast–especially when it can include peanut butter and chocolate chips– I became obsessed with pancakes.

Now that I have children of my own, I wanted to take that perfect carb-laden confection of my childhood and make it something that the dentist wouldn’t lecture me for feeding to my kids on a weekly basis. But making something destined to be coated with butter and drizzled with real maple syrup (no, I cannot compromise on those two details) healthy and still tasty is a bit of a challenge, and the pre-made mixes just don’t cut it once you’ve gotten used to scratch cakes.

Here’s my base recipe, which contains several slight modifications from Peg’s original Griddle Cake recipe.

First, preheat the griddle to 375 (if you don’t have an electric griddle, this is going to be somewhere close to medium on an electric stove and probably closer to medium-low on a gas one). Then combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl:

2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 T sugar (if you use honey or agave instead, add it with the wet ingredients)
1 T baking powder
pinch of salt
1 t cinnamon

Then mix the wet ingredients:

1.5 c milk (or, for even better results, whey leftover from making ricotta!)
1 egg
3 T butter, melted
1 t vanilla

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing as little as possible, and let them sit for at least 5 minutes, after which you may want to add some more milk/whey to get the consistency right (The thicker the batter, the thicker the pancake, but also the longer it needs to cook to avoid having them doughy in the middle. My husband likes them very thin, so I usually pour some on for the kids & I, then thin the batter a bit and make his!) . Spoon the batter on 1/3 cup at a time and flip when bubble rise to the top of the cakes.

Now, there are all kinds of variations on these cakes. You can make them with soy milk and 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of the milk, eggs, and butter, to make a vegan cake (although these are somewhat more dense). You can add banana slices, slivered almonds, blueberries, or chocolate chips after you pour the batter on the griddle–but before flipping!–for a special treat. If you’re really adamant about the sugar, these cakes really can be eaten without the maple syrup because they’re that good, but why would you want to?!?

And you can go back to making them with part white flour if the whole-wheat is too much for you. I have to admit that, unless you have whole-wheat pastry flour, which is much finer-milled than traditional whole-wheat flour, these pancakes are not light and fluffy. So the flour is key. I have used 1 c regular whole wheat flour and 1 c regular white flour when I don’t have the pastry flour, but I think they’re best as described in the recipe.

3 thoughts on “In search of the perfect pancake

  1. I have such fond memories of your pancakes. I used to marvel at your stack-o-grossness when we were teenagers; layer after layer of chocolate chip cakes, peanut butter, syrup, cakes, peanut butter, syrup (and it certainly wasn’t real syrup in those days). I always feared that those cakes would float right off your plate in a deluge of Mrs. Butterworth’s. Now, on occasion, even Maeve will ask for your pancakes for breakfast! How things have changed but certainly for the better!

  2. Well, it is the best pancake recipe ever, Peg! What do you change to make it healthy? We might have to compare notes while you’re out here in just a few weeks!!!!

  3. Wow! I’m so honored to have my recipe mentioned. We have a healthier recipe that is also incredible. Plus, you can feed it to the little people, guilt free!

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