29 November 2010

pancakes: I cannot live without them

Oh, the holidays. This past week took me to the East Coast for some serious family time. It encompassed too many major events -- the holiday itself, a death in the family, a birth in the family, travelling, my folks, my in-laws... too much to take in over a week. Of course, the blogging suffered (I even brought along stuff to post! Really!). I needed every moment with my family I could manage. 

But now we're back home in our cozy-wozy apartment, with our yowly cat and our cuddly doggie (somebody decided it would be fun to roll in poop during doggie daycare while we were away -- just don't breathe in while cudding!). And I went to work, as normal. And finally, I can relax. How do I relax? Aha! Talk about food to you people! Yes! So this trip did involve some cooking (read: therapy), including apple butter crumb cake, soup (duh!), and of course, pancakes. You see, pancakes are an important tradition in our house. My husband and I make them every single weekend. In fact, a friend of mine recently told me that we sound like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, spending our weekend mornings leisurely making pancakes, clipping coupons, and watching Hulu and/or Netflix. The tradition goes back to our Bisquik-based batters in college, and has certainly progressed since then. We used the standard in the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, other delicious iterations, then settled on an orange-blueberry cornmeal recipe for a good long while, incorporated a few good tricks from Baking Illustrated and have now honed these versions into our own standard. It seemed fitting them we made pancakes for dinner at my sister's house over the holiday -- it is pretty much the way I say "I love you" with food. I could write you a ten-page essay on pancakes, easily.

So I encourage you to make pancakes for dinner, not just for breakfast. Plus you know you are sooo over the pumpkin/cranberry/cinnamon-y recipes that everyone else is posting these days :). It's baking for mealtime!

Our pancakes!
recipe by tofusurprise

1/2 c. white flour
1/2 c. wheat flour
3 T. cornmeal
1/4 c. oats
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1 T. sugar
2 T. butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. buttermilk (we use milk soured with lemon juice)
1/4 c. milk (to thin as needed)
1 mushy, ripe banana, quartered then diced
1/2 c. chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 200 F (lowest setting) with a cookie sheet inside. This is to keep all the pancakes warm so you can all eat them at once.
2. Combine flours, sugar, cornmeal, oats, salt, powder, and soda in a medium mixing bowl.
3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix up buttermilk. While it sits, melt the butter and turn on the griddle over medium heat. 
4. Add the egg and vanilla to the milk and mix. Add the butter and mix well.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. With a rubber scraper, mix the batter about halfway (looks chunky, visible flour-y blobs) and then add the banana and chocolate chips.
6. Mix until just combined. If it looks too thick, thin with up to 1/4 c. milk. It should be thick enough to suspend the chocolate chips.
7. Time to calibrate the griddle! Take a tablespoon of batter and place it in the middle of the griddle (tee hee!). Wait one minute. Flip the mini-pancake and evaluate the golden-ness of the pancake. Cook opposite side ~45 seconds, and then either eat it (gotta make sure it tastes okay, right?) or stick it in the oven on the cookie sheet.
8. Once the griddle temperature is right, use a 1/4 c. measuring cup and pour out four pancakes onto the griddle. They should cook for ~1:45 to 2:30, until the bubbles on the edges of the pancakes pop and don't fill back in.
9. Flip the pancakes, cook the other sides for ~1:30, and put them in the oven. 
10. Give a quick stir to the batter and make sure it is homogeneous -- it tends to stratify, and you want to make sure each batch is just as good!
11. Repeat until done! Time for pancakes! Don't forget to turn off the griddle and the oven!
12. Serving suggestions: My husband says they are so good he prefers them plain (weird, I know). I like some protein in the morning, so I usually put plain greek yogurt on top if I have it, then maple syrup. Otherwise, I like standard yogurt, peanut butter, or mascarpone on top, usually with roasted cashews and/or almonds as well.


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