March 14, 2010
Whole Grain Pancakes
It seems like everyone is talking about spring and noticing the signs. I've seen trees covered in little buds getting ready for leaves to burst out, when the time comes. The season is beginning to change, but the wind today made me wish I hadn't left the house without a scarf and it nearly knocked me over as I rounded a corner. I think spring is a season for impatience. Everyone wants sun, soft breezes and green grass, but we mostly get mud. This is the time of year to think about growth, new life and digging in soil. I, of course, am getting ready for big changes but as I go through old letters and wrap up dishes the season seems more autumnal and contemplative than the loud leaping of spring.
As I navigate my way around packed boxes and others waiting to be filled, I have been obsessively trying to use up as much of the food in my pantry and freezer as possible. The past couple of weeks have been a great game of how to creatively use up all of the odds and ends. This morning, in what was probably the last meal at our dear apartment, I went back to the old standby of my favorite pancakes.
I have made a lot of pancakes over the last several years. I usually make them in the big cast iron skillet that Ray bought when we were first dating and which I use for sauteeing, stir-frying, and cooking at least half of our meals. A hot breakfast, given a little more time than normal, can be a special treat even on a work day morning. I suspect you, also, have made many pancakes, but I realize that a lot of people don't know just how easy it is to mix up flours and pour in milk and eggs all of which will soon be transformed into tender, sweet, steaming hot cakes. While a pancake mix would provide the same pleasurable hot cake experience, I love the flexibility and possibilities of making them from scratch.
I use a mix of mostly whole-grain flours which varies each time I stir them together depending on what is in the cupboard. I love to add fruit to my pancakes, usually blueberries that I picked and froze over the summer. Frozen fruit is really easy to add, but sliced apples or bananas work really well, too. In my experience, pancake batter is really forgiving and its the kind of thing you can toss together while half asleep and, if you want, not wake up til you take the first bite.
P.S. I am sorry for the lack of Slow posts, the past few weeks have been a really busy time. We will be traveling for all of April and most of May, but they will be back after that!
Whole Grain Pancakes
adapted from Sunlight Cafe by Mollie Katzen
I usually use whole wheat pastry flour as the base, but if I am out, I like to use a mixture of 2 parts whole wheat flour and 1 part white flour. Along with the wheat flour, I add another type of whole grain flour or meal: flax seed meal, wheat germ, oats*, corn meal -- experiment with the grains and proportions and see which you like best. Use any fruit you like, just make sure it is in small enough pieces to evenly distribute on the pancakes. Frozen fruit does not need to thaw before adding.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup other whole grain flour or meal (lately I have loved the texture and flavor of flax seed meal)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (see below for a substitution for this)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
Place a large skillet over medium heat. In a medium bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Measure out buttermilk in a two cup measure. Add eggs and beat with a fork to combine. Pour milk and eggs as well as the melted butter into the dry ingredients. Stir to combine, its okay if there are a few lumps. When the skillet is heated, add butter or non-stick spray to grease the pan. Pour in 1/4 to 1/3 cup of batter. Sprinkle fruit on the batter, if using. When small bubbles form and stay on the top of the pancake, flip it. Let it cook for another couple of minutes. Keep each pancake warm in the oven until all are made, or eat them as soon as they come off the griddle. They go especially well with real maple syrup, yogurt or more fruit. If you don't use all the batter at once, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for two or three days (just stir it up when you are ready to use it).
Makes about 5 five-inch pancakes.
If you don't have buttermilk (I rarely do) simply stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar into the milk and let stand for a few minutes.
*If you are using oats, let them soak in the milk for 15 minutes before mixing everything together.