Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tales of a Foodie - The Perfect (and EASY) Pancake

Whenever I find out that a friend is using a pre-packaged shortcut to make a favorite dish, it is not uncommon for me to immediately exclaim "but you can make that from scratch, and it's SO EASY!!!" This usually prompts a disgusted look from said friend, followed by an eyeroll. I will admit, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I have been cooking and baking long enough to find things easy that may seem a little difficult to the novice cook. However...

...pancakes from scratch are the easiest thing from scratch you will ever make! I can make a whole batch in them in under 30 minutes, and they are fool-proof if you follow this simple recipe.

Fool-proof Pancakes From Scratch

1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)*
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

* it's very important that you spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level it off. If you scoop the flour and level it, you may have a denser measurement that is not accurate for this recipe. 

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees; have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. It's important to use a whisk, or at least a fork to ensure that all ingredients are mixed well. 

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, and egg. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened (do not overmix; a few small lumps are fine.)

3. Heat a large skillet (nonstick or cast-iron) or griddle over medium heat. Fold a sheet of paper towel in half, and moisten with oil; carefully rub skillet with oiled paper towel (you may have to repeat this after each batch if the skillet looks a little dry.) 

4. For each pancake, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2 to 3 in a large skillet.)

5. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst. 1 to 2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula, and cook until browned on the underside, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in oven. Continue with more oil and more batter. Serve warm, with desired toppings (syrup, confectioners sugar, honey, jam, preserves, whipped cream or chocolate syrup.)

See how easy that is? In five simple steps, you can have homemade pancakes! Below are a few extra tips that will help enhance your fabulous pancake-from-scratch experience:

* remember, to keep pancakes tender, take care NOT to overmix batter; a few small lumps are fine.

* the skillet is at the right temperature when drops of water jump a little on the surface.

* use as little oil as possible in the skillet; a quick wipe with an oiled paper towel is enough.

* for thinner or thicker pancakes, add more or less liquid; respectively.

* if you want to add extras, such as blueberries, sliced bananas, strawberries, chocolate chips or nuts, sprinkle on pancakes before flipping. 

* To freeze left-over pancakes, stack cooled pancakes between squares of waxed paper; place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container. Freeze up to 3 months. Reheat on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven or toaster oven. Don't reheat pancakes in the microwave - they will get rubbery. 

This basic pancake recipe was found in the September 2006 issue of Everyday Food (one of my all-time favorite food publications) and I have been using it ever since. I hope you find it to be as helpful as I did! 

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