Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday morning has ticked by, and on this side of the world, it’s after noon. May I interest you in a plate of pancakes?

At the end of last year, around the same time winter had begun to seem endless, my friend Niki sent a care package of locally-made Minnesota foods. Everything was wrapped carefully in thick white paper, and so thoughtfully chosen. Nothing lasted very long because it was all so ridiculously good. Tin of anchovies? To pasta! Gone in a week. Heirloom tomato jam? For toast, grilled cheese, and cheese, straight up. After six days, I was scraping the sides of the jar for every last bit. But the jug of maple syrup stood the longest on the shelf before I finally cracked it open.

When I think of syrup, I still think of all of my botched attempts at pancakes, of the many leaden, burnt and lackluster results, pancakes that have made me question whether I even like pancakes, and affairs that nearly ended in a year-long hotcake dry spell because I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. In the meantime, I did learn how to expertly fry an egg, so I suppose not all was lost.

While that jug of maple syrup stood neglected on its shelf, I thought of how I might put it to use. As it turns out, there are many, many ways to do justice to the stuff that have nothing to do with a griddle, like for hot and cold cocktails, vinaigrettes, and donuts. Still, I wanted pancakes, and I wanted them to be good. Talk about greedy, right?

But lo, the spell was broken, much because I felt the syrup deserved it. Nothing a little research and determination can’t overcome where matters of the kitchen are concerned. This recipe is pitch-perfect, and the secret is a medley of buttermilk, a gentle mix, the separation of egg yolk from white, and patience. I borrowed tips from Deb for a basic recipe that can be played up with fruit, chocolate, or nuts. Pictured above: persimmon pancakes with crunchy and soft persimmons.

May good pancakes be a part of your very near future, my friends. And Happy Lunar New Year.

Sunday Morning Pancakes (makes 6)

1 cup buttermilk (or, 1 cup milk with 1 T lemon juice stirred in – allow to sit for 5  minutes combined)
1 egg, separated
1 cup flour
2 T butter, melted
1 T sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

*Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt. Don’t sift.

*Whip the egg white until stiff, or just nearly stiff. Whip the yolk separately.

*Whisk the egg yolk into the buttermilk.

*Mix the egg yolk/buttermilk and butter into the dry ingredients. Barely mix. Lumps are good, as long as all bits of dry flour are concealed.

*Finally, fold the egg white into the batter

*Lightly brush a pan with melted butter, and go! And keep the heat at low.

  • Mimsie

    Looks yum! I’m seeing many a brunch in our futures as roomies! ;)

  • Meagan

    Mmmm, must try this! Sonja also has a great pancake recipe—her secret is using a little sour cream in the batter. I’m sure she’d love to share it, though it sounds like you’ve already found the ideal go-to mix. :)

  • Joan ault

    They sound delicious. I am going to make them this weekend for me.

  • Nikoline

    Looks like you and Rick Nelson of the Star Tribune were on the same page But I prefer your method of separating the eggs, much more delicate!

  • Meghan Kelly

    I will remember this recipe when my box of already-made-powder runs out… which is soon! ha! Thx!

  • jlgabel

    Mimsie, yes! I hope you like vodka with your tomato juice.

    Meagan, I’ve heard of using sour cream! Sounds like a really, really good idea. We all should get together and eat plates of both recipes.

    Jody, if you made them, would love to hear how you liked them.

    Nik – I learned from Smitten Kitchen, and the method is golden! So worth it to take the extra step of separating the eggs.

    Meghan, I know the box mix all too well, and I could pick out the generic plastic-bottled brand of syrup I grew up with in a blind taste test any day. I will say, if the dark side of flapjacks means pure maple syrup and a little extra effort, honey I ain’t never going back.