Weekend mornings are perfect for sleeping in, taking the dogs for a walk (or a roll in Cedric’s case), and making a big pancake breakfast. Maple syrup is essential in my book,* and this does not mean maple-flavored syrup, so throw out any Aunt Jemima or similar that may be lurking in your cupboard. You want what is known as “real maple syrup,” but that is a misnomer. It’s just “maple syrup,” the other stuff should be labeled “fake maple syrup.” (Is milk “real milk”? Are apples “real apples”? I rest my case.)
Get out your maple syrup (the container should be refrigerated after it’s been opened) and pour some into a small saucepan so it’s all ready to heat up as the pancakes get close to being done.
Also, if you have half of a very ripe banana, you can mash it thoroughly and add it to the batter. You’ll want to add that to the wet ingredients before you combine them with the dry ingredients. Or if you have fresh raspberries or blueberries, wash some (maybe half a cup), dry them thoroughly, and toss them in just before putting the batter in the pan.
Most of the time we prefer thin pancakes that are more like French crepes. The recipe I’ve adapted from The Joy of Cooking (my copy’s covers are off and it is falling apart from repeated use since college) is as follows:
* Sift 3/4 cup flour (I like to use half whole wheat pastry and half white, but you could also experiment with spelt)**
* Resift with 1/8 tsp salt and
1 tsp double-acting baking powder (look for a brand with no aluminum!)
* Beat 2 any-size eggs (preferably free-range, meaning the chickens weren’t cooped up and probably had a happier life)
* Add and beat
2/3 cup any kind of milk
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (much better than vanilla “flavor”)
Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients with just a few swift strokes of your whisk, getting out the big lumps. But don’t overstir!
** Turn on the syrup now, on low to medium heat.
Heat a medium nonstick buttered pan (best to use unsalted butter), heat should be moderate, you won’t want the butter browning before you put the batter in. You can test it by sprinkling a few drops of water on the pan, if they bounce it is ready. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter in and swirl it around till it makes a nice big circle. It cooks pretty quickly since it is so thin, so keep an eye on it and flip it over when it starts to turn golden on the bottom.
Serve with plenty of warm syrup.
Et voila! Yummy pancake breakfast!
* If you prefer, you can alternatively make a sauce out of berries mashed with a little water and sugar and heated till it thickens. Or use good quality fruit jam.
** Notes about purchasing flour: Since it is a grain, it can go rancid. Buy any whole grain product in a place where there is good turnover and it’s likely to be fresh. If the health food store, ask them! I keep all my flour in the refrigerator in their paper bags within a plastic bag, so I can just open the top of both bags at once and dig in with my measuring cup.