Friday, July 15, 2011

Foodie Friday: The versatility of a pancake recipe

It's no secret, we love breakfast foods in our house. Over 4 years ago, I knew I needed to figure out how to make a good pancake from scratch because the store-bought mixes were too expensive... and full of preservatives.

After fiddling with a few recipes, I came up with my favorite pancake recipe. Now, I like my pancakes fluffy. If you like them thinner, just add an extra egg and a bit more milk. As always, there's an "Almost On Purpose" factor to this mix; and I'll share that in a moment. First, here's the recipe...

Kristy's Favorite Pancake Mix - Basic

1 1/2 cups flour (choose your favorite and any combination)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar (or 3 scoops pure stevia extract... this is the super powdery stuff, not Truvia)
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp flax seed meal, optional
2 Tbsp rolled oats, optional

Note: Before I do anything, I start by putting my butter in a small pan on the stove to melt. By the time I'm ready for the butter, it's already melted.
  1. Heat griddle pan to medium heat.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Using a spoon or the back of a measuring cup, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the egg to the center of the well and break up the egg. 
  5. Add in 1/2 the milk to the broken-up egg and begin to mix into dry ingredients.
  6. Add melted butter and remaining milk and mix in until all batter is mixed. Doesn't have to be smooth.
    Tip: If you let the batter sit a few minutes before placing on the griddle, they taste EVEN better.
  7. Pour or scoop (I use 1/4 cup measure) batter onto griddle. When bubbles form and sides begin to set, flip pancakes and cook until center is cooked through.
  8. Serve immediately or put in oven to keep warm. Serve with your favorite syrup.
Yield: 10-12 4-inch pancakes

Now, for the "Almost On Purpose" part of the story.

Mix ahead of time 
I've found that this recipe travels really well, except for the wet ingredients. I have stored one batch of the dry ingredients in container or zip-top bag and taken it with us for an easy breakfast on vacation. I don't have to lug all the dry ingredients. Since most of the measuring is done, I just have to add the wet ingredients, mix, and cook. Everyone is happy to wake up to a warm breakfast. Plus, I feel better about saving a little money on vacation.

Mix-in options
This recipe is super easy to make over into an AMAZING breakfast. My boys LOVE pancakes, but I don't like to give it too them ALL the time. I like to hide things in their pancakes. First, I started with mashed bananas. That was easy to hide. In the summer time, I would peel and grate zucchini and mix it into the batter. So much fun! The pancakes have done amazingly well with all my concoctions. I've decided to list a few of my favorites.

  • Banana nut pancakes: add 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 banana mashed, 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Blueberry pancakes: add 1/2 tsp almond extract, 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • Chocolate chip pancakes (don't do this one very often): add 1tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (min-chocolate chips are also great)
  • Zucchini pancakes: 1/2 medium grated zucchini, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. These pancakes can be a bit thin because the zucchini gives off some of it's liquid. Just cut back on some of the milk.
  • New idea: Baked apples! Maybe sautee some chopped, peeled apples in cinnamon. After pouring the plain batter onto griddle, scatter some of the apple-cinnamon mixture on top of the pancakes and continue cooking. I'll have to experiment with this one soon!
Serving a Crowd
This is great for a brunch because you can double or trip the basic recipe, then separate into different bowls and create many different pancakes. Anyone is bound to find a pancake they love, and you don't have to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. 

Pancakes are great as leftovers. They are easy to store and easy to reheat in the toaster or oven. Here's some of my favorite ways to store:
  • Fridge: place in single layer in a reusable container. If more pancakes, place plastic wrap, parchment paper, or wax paper between the layers to prevent sticking together. When needed, pop each one in the toaster for a hot pancake. So easy!
  • Freezer: Two options: (1) Flash freeze on baking sheet, then store in zip-top bag. Reheat individual pancakes in toaster. (2) If serving a crowd later in the week, place them all in a foil packet and then into a container or zip-top bag. When you need the pancakes, place the foil packet in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.
This summer, while visiting my parents at the beach, I had made too many banana nut pancakes and had a bunch leftover. Since I hate throwing food away, I saved them and stored them in the fridge. A few mornings later, we decided to have breakfast on the beach. An hour before leaving, I cut the pancakes into 1" strips, packed them in foil packets and put them in a warmed oven. When it was time to go, I packed the pancake packets in a separate cooler and packed two small containers of maple syrup for dipping. We'd also made a batch of iced coffee. It was an AMAZING breakfast!! It helps to have the awesome camping-style tables and picnic setup that my mom has. She's so much fun!

Disclaimer: I did forget the cooler with warm pancakes... on the counter. My dearest father drove back to the house to get them. Thankfully, we had other food to keep the kids happy until the pancakes arrived. In the end, it was still one of my favorite breakfasts on our trip, and I have a hilarious memory of my sometimes (more often than not) scattered brain. The leftover pancakes made for a wonderful "Almost On Purpose" breakfast. Yummy!

Do you have a favorite, versatile food?

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