Pancake breakfast (+ recipe!)
February 4, 2014 § 6 Comments
Just before the holidays, the boys’ school hosted a soirée with an international theme. Everyone was asked to contribute a traditional food from their country, which would be offered for sale on the night of the party. I pondered for a moment, and thought, of course: chocolate chip cookies. We haven’t yet met another American at the school (although it is plenty international), and while chocolate chip cookies are not exactly original, I figured they would be welcome. Imagine my surprise when the table representing North America was filled with about nine platters of slightly different chocolate chip cookies.
Given the variety on all the other tables, it was pretty embarrassing. While of course there is amazing cooking to be found all over the U.S. (a big reason I miss Brooklyn!), and much of it is trumpeted as American cuisine, I realized that it is largely a style, an attitude, rather than specific dishes that speak to a national identity. A beautiful farm-to-table roast chicken with seasonal vegetables sounds great, but it’s not recognizably American. Of course, that’s part of the beauty of our country: that there are so many traditions, no single dish could possibly even hint at the whole.
So one weekend morning over pancakes, it dawned on me that this is something typically American, that no other cuisine does anything quite like it. Crêpes, blini, palačinky, and untold other variations, sure. But none of these is the same as a stack of fluffy, warm pancakes served with maple syrup and a side of bacon. It inspired me to invite our neighbors to partake of our weekend tradition. (Though they have spent time in the U.S. and certainly had pancakes before, I’m proud to say they did have an epiphany here: bacon and maple syrup!)
I’ve made a lot of pancakes in my day. We probably have them at least every other weekend. My “recipe” is very forgiving, and it has changed over time. It is loosely modeled on this one, which includes ground flaxseed and chopped walnuts. But it is also easy to change based on what’s in your cupboard at any given time. This is my current iteration. For a change from syrup, I love these with fresh lemon juice and sugar sprinkled on top.
- 2 cups flour (I generally use a mixture of whole wheat, all-purpose, and buckwheat)
- ½ cup fine cornmeal
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- butter for cooking
Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated. (If too thick, add a little more milk or buttermilk.)
Heat large (preferably cast-iron) skillet and heat over medium heat, then swirl in a pat of butter. Add batter to skillet by scant 1/4 cupfuls. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface and undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook an additional 1–2 minutes. Reserve on a platter in a warm oven, and continue with the rest of the batter. Serve with warm maple syrup.