Words By Melissa Clark, © 2018 New York Times News Service
When my mother made pancakes, you knew it was a special occasion.
She would pull out the heavy-duty stand mixer, separate the eggs and beat the whites until they were cloudlike, then fold them into a batter creamy with cottage cheese. The pancakes would puff when she fried them, each one a tiny, golden soufflé ready to be coated in maple syrup. They were delectable, but as rare as double rainbows: an occasional, birthday-special kind of treat.
My pancakes are not anything like hers.
For one thing, mine are easy, stirred by hand, with no stand mixer required. I do not even need a whisk. A fork can get the job done, so I can make them anytime — not just on birthdays, but on lazy Sundays in that rustic summer rental, or whenever I get the craving for their crisp edges and a hearty side of bacon.
Where the ones my mother made were airy and tangy, these are buttery, hearty and deep in flavour. The combination of whole grains — whole-wheat flour, cornmeal and oats — gives these an appealing earthiness, along with a good shot of fibre and other nutrients. They will sustain you all morning, especially if you add blueberries, sliced peaches or other fruit.
If you want to embellish these, the best way to incorporate fruit — or chocolate chips, if you are feeding small children (or sweet-toothed adults) — is to add it to the cakes while they are cooking rather than mixing them into the batter.
You will want to drop the batter onto a hot pan, and let it cook for a few minutes to let the undersides firm up. When tiny bubbles appear on the pancakes’ surface, and just before you flip them, sprinkle on the fruit or chocolate chips. This keeps things tidy and lets you distribute the add-ons evenly. It also offers an opportunity to make chocolate chips into a happy face, should you want to amuse those sweet-toothed adults.
The batter itself is also adaptable. Feel free to adjust the ratio of the flours, or substitute some rye or buckwheat flour for all or part of the whole-wheat. I have also made these with coconut milk and coconut oil in place of the buttermilk and butter for the dairy-averse in my life, and they have come out great.
This is a pancake recipe that is reliably tasty, easy and forgiving — exactly what you need on any given Sunday morning.
RECIPE: Whole-Grain Pancakes
Yield: About 10 pancakes
Total time: 45 minutes
1 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups buttermilk or plain yoghurt (not Greek)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon honey
Maple syrup, for serving
In a large bowl, mix together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, oats, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium bowl, mix together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and honey. Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture until smooth.
Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Check to see if it is hot by sprinkling a few drops of water on the surface. They should sizzle and evaporate immediately.
Add a little butter to the pan and let it melt. Pour about 1/3 cup batter onto skillet; repeat to cook as many at one time as you can, leaving space for each pancake to spread.
Cook until bubbles form and start to burst, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate as they finish, and serve immediately with maple syrup and more butter on top, if you like.
Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.
Featured Image: Andrew Scrivani, The New York Times