Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Everyone has their weekend rituals. For E and me, one ritual we have is Saturday morning pancakes. Typically this involves my going downstairs first, putting on a pot of coffee and cleaning the kitchen (depending on how much cleaning up we didn't do from Friday night's dinner - if it's been a long week and there was a martini involved, chances are no dishes got done on Friday night), then getting pancakes going - and E finally comes downstairs after everything has been magically cleaned and the pancakes are nearly done. His sense of timing is quite remarkable in this regard.

Anyway, I have a pancake recipe that's now committed to memory, which I love to make - it's easy and tasty and, of course, healthy (sensing a pattern yet?). I'll make it with pumpkin and spices during the fall and sometimes into the winter, and with applesauce the rest of the time. I love topping these pancakes with no-sugar-added pumpkin butter and pure maple syrup (2 T does the trick) as I have given up artificial and processed foods - I used to be a SF syrup junkie!

Here's the recipe... it turns out best if you have a cup of coffee to keep you company as you cook.

Oh - and I've written this recipe for people who may not make pancakes that often, so it has a lot of guidance. If you're an expert pancake maker and are just interested in the recipe, well, you know what to do.

Saturday Morning Pancakes (makes 24 pancakes, 4 pancakes per serving)
  • 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 T. granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 1/2 c. low-fat or fat free buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin or 1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • Optional add-ins: fresh blueberries, dried cranberries, chocolate chips
**Pre-heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees, or one of those stove-top grill pan / griddles over medium-high heat. I don't recommend using a skillet as you can only make 2 or 3 pancakes at a time and it will take forever!
1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl
2. In a medium mixing bowl (or a 4-cup measuring glass if you hate doing dishes as much as I do), whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and pumpkin (or applesauce)
3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently until combined. It's important that you NOT over-mix or the resulting pancakes will be flat and sad, and nobody wants that. The batter will look a little bit lumpy, and you will see some bubbles start to form as the baking soda and powder begin to react with the buttermilk. Let the batter sit for a few moments before you start making pancakes.
4. Now, make the pancakes.
  • I've found that using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup to pour the batter works well - you end up with evenly sized pancakes at just about the right size. Spray the skillet with a little cooking spray (canola oil is best) and dab any excess with paper towel.
  • Using the measuring cup, pour the batter onto the skillet, evenly spacing each pancake - you want about half an inch between them. My skillet fits eight pancakes (2 rows of 4). Bubbles will start to appear on the surface of the pancakes.
  • When the edges of each pancake look like they're cooked, and the bubbles have slowed / stopped - this should take about 2-3 minutes - it's time to flip the pancake.
  • This is the fun part - and the part that takes practice if you're a pancake novice. Just trust that it will work, and it will - if you get too nervous, you'll psych yourself out, the pancakes and the spatula will sense this, and they'll flop. Take a spatula and with confident, quick, movement, slide it under the pancake. Again, with confident, quick, movement, flip your wrist so that you put the pancake back on the griddle on its other, uncooked side. Smile at your mad pancake flipping skills, but briefly - you've got 7 other pancakes to flip.
  • Take a moment to observe the color of the pancakes - do they look golden brown? A bit too dark? Not dark enough? Adjust the cooking time if necessary.
  • After you've flipped all of the pancakes, they'll need another 1 or 2 minutes before they can be removed and the next batch of batter can be cooked.
  • You can tell if the pancakes are done in a couple of ways: Lift the edge of a pancake with the spatula and have a peek - is it golden brown? Then it's ready. You can also poke the top of the pancake with your finger - if the surface springs back, it's ready. If not, leave it for a while longer.
  • I like to put the finished pancakes on a large platter that sits underneath the griddle to keep them warm - you can also keep an oven-proof platter in the oven at about 200 degrees, and put the finished pancakes in there until all of the batter is cooked.
  • Nutrition information per serving (about 4 pancakes): 186 calories, 33 g carbs, 3 g fat, 3 g fiber, 10 g protein
Recipe Notes
  • Buttermilk: If you don't have buttermilk, you can use regular milk - just reduce the amount to 2 cups. You can also add plain yogurt to milk to thicken it up, or you can add 2 T. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the milk and let it sit to thicken for a moment.
  • Applesauce vs. pumpkin: I've found that you need less applesauce than pumpkin, as the pumpkin is a bit thicker. If you're opening a new can of pumpkin for the pancakes, freeze the rest in 1/2 cup portions so you can thaw just what you need for the next batch. Or, make some pumpkin muffins with the rest. If you're not someone who eats a lot of applesauce (like me) I've found that the applesauce cups are a great way to buy applesauce for baking - they come in 1/2 cup portions and you don't end up opening a whole jar that will likely go to waste.

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