Saturday, December 18, 2010

Savoring Saturdays -- Pancake Day!

I have a friend from high school who, more or less every week, declares PANCAKE DAY! in her Facebook status. We don’t have pancakes quite that often, but when we do, it’s a sweet indulgence. Since the holidays are all about indulgence, it only seemed right to kick off our first Saturday of break with pancakes (see last recipe below).
We ate pancakes with fair regularity when I was growing up, but they were more likely to be a Sunday evening supper than a breakfast food. And they were more likely to be from a box of Bisquick than they were to be made from scratch. In my first year of graduate school, however, my mom—who’d always fed me Bisquick pancakes, set me on a different path when she gave me the recipe that I used for years to impress friends. It was a good pancake recipe, but as much as anything what it had going for it was that it was different. It went something like this:
1 egg, beaten
1 ¼ c. sour milk or buttermilk (if your milk hasn’t soured, you can add a bit of vinegar to perfectly good milk)
1 ¼ c. flour (one variation I did of this was to use ½ c. whole wheat flour and ¾ c. white flour)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 T melted butter
Combine the wet ingredients, then add everything else. (Variation: add some cinnamon and vanilla). Cook pancakes.
This was a great recipe for my bachelor days, because it was almost a given that there would be sour milk in my fridge. It was not usual for me to call up a friend on a Saturday or Sunday morning and have an impromptu pancake party.
For  a while, I was in a serious, committed relationship with a sourdough starter, and while that lasted, I had a great recipe for sourdough pancakes—it was not only delicious but it was also useful, in that it used up extra starter when it was time to refresh it anyway. I never memorized that recipe, so I can’t share it now while I’m traveling.
Recently, in Sally Fallon’s cookbook Nourishing Traditions, I found the recipe that I used to welcome the first Saturday of winter break. This is a great recipe for any number of reasons. It’s claimed that the soaking neutralizes phytic acid in the whole wheat flour, and that’s supposed to be good for you. Even leaving that aside, it’s a great way to make pancakes out of just whole wheat flour (getting all the benefits that provides vs. white flour) and still have really tasty pancakes.
2 c. buttermilk
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
2 T melted butter
Soak the flour in the buttermilk overnight (Fallon recommends 12-24 hours). Add the other ingredients, stir to blend, and add some water to the mixture to get the desired consistency. Cook and enjoy.
Although for years I enjoyed high fructose fakple syrup, I’ve become something of a snob in the past year or so. The thing that pushed me over the edge was this: I started eating real maple syrup on my oatmeal, and it’s been hard to go back. Fake syrup does not cut it on oatmeal. It’s still acceptable to me on pancakes—I’ll take it if it’s offered and be just fine with it—but nothing quite satisfies like real maple syrup.


  1. At first glance that first recipe looks pretty much like what I use out of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook -- some of the measurements might be a tad different, and I think she calls for oil instead of melted butter, but otherwise very similar. I use all whole wheat flour with no adverse effects.

    I'll have to try the Nourishing Traditions version some day...

  2. My daughter told me that they have taken a bit of almond flour from Trader Joe's to their pancake/waffle batter. She says it's amazing; I'm going to try it.