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When it comes to pancakes, sky’s the limit

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Pancakes are a truly global food. Just about every country and ethnic group has its own pancake specialty. The French have their thin crepes; the Dutch enjoy thick, plate-sized pancakes; in North America and Scandinavia you’ll find enriched light batter pancakes; Russians add yeast to a buckwheat batter to create small pancakes called blinis; in southern India you’ll find dosas, made from lentil flour and topped with chutneys and relishes; in Ethiopia a flour called teff is used to make very large pancakes (or bread) called injera; and in Scotland, thick, soft, and fluffy-textured Scotch pancakes are on the menu for breakfast and tea with butter and jam. The British have their crumpets, that start off with a plain, thick, yeasty batter, which you cook within metal rings set on a griddle or frying pan over low steady heat. As the batter cooks, you see the mixture slowly rise to the top of each ring as air bubbles come to the surface, pop, and set. The finished result is a freestanding, aerated, spongy batter cake. When I tried making these I used a large tuna can with both ends cut off for the crumpet-cooking rings, but I’m sure you can find the real thing if you look.
Many flours and other starches can be used to make pancakes. Some, like buckwheat or cornmeal, are naturally gluten-free, if you go that way. There are also some ready-made gluten-free flours that are usually made with a combination of rice, potato, tapioca, maize, or buckwheat flour. If making gluten-free pancakes, the flour may absorb slightly more liquid if the batter is left to stand, so the resulting mixture will be thicker and may require watering down prior to cooking. I haven’t tried this gluten-free flour, so I don’t know how it works.
A basic pancake batter is only four ingredients—1 c. flour, a pinch salt, 1 egg, and 1 ¼ c. milk. From there, the sky’s the limit. Try one of these…

Blueberry-Cinnamon Silver Dollars
2 c. flour
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
4 T. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 c. milk
½ c. blueberries
Oil for pan
Mix the flour, cinnamon, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add 3 T. oil, the egg, and milk, and gradually whisk into the dry ingredients to form a smooth, thick batter.  Fold in the blueberries; do not over-mix. Brush large frying pan or griddle with oil. Ladle about 1 T. batter to form a small pancake about 2 inches in diameter. Cook over moderate heat for about a minute and a half, until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip over and brown the other side for about a minute.  Stack pancakes between sheets of wax paper or parchment till all are cooked. Serve with syrup, or as a snack with powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Makes 24 pancakes.

Basic Crepe Batter
1 c. flour
2 T. sugar (if using a sweet filling)
A pinch salt
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 ¼ c. milk
1/3 c. melted butter
Mix all ingredients except the melted butter with a whisk till smooth. Cover loosely and leave in a cool place for 30 minutes. Stir ¼ c. butter into the batter before using. Brush a small (6-in.) frying pan or crepe pan with some of the extra melted butter. When the pan is hot, pour in about ¼ c. batter and tilt the pan from side to side so the batter runs into a thin, even layer across the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, then carefully flip over and brown the other side about a minute. Store cooked crepes between wax paper or parchment. Use a little butter in the pan before each new crepe. Makes 12 crepes.

Blintzes
1 recipe basic crepe batter
1 c. cottage cheese
½ c. cream cheese
¼ c. sugar
½ t. vanilla
¼ stick unsalted butter
Make crepes. Set aside. Mix together the cottage cheese, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and spread some onto center of each crepe. Fold two sides over towards the middle, and then roll up and secure with toothpick. Melt the butter in a large frying pan until bubbling.  Gently fry the rolled pancakes for about five minutes, turning, until browned all over. Drain; discard the toothpicks and serve warm. Can top with fresh fruit, fruit pie filling, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, etc. Makes 12 blintzes.

Apple and Pecan Pancakes
1 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. sugar
½ t. salt
2 eggs, separated
1 c. buttermilk
4 T. applesauce (or apple butter)
¼ stick butter
½ c. pecans, chopped
Maple or other pancake syrup
Mix flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, sugar, and salt into bowl. Add the egg yolks and buttermilk and whisk together till smooth. In separate bowl, whip the egg whites till stiff, and then gently fold into the batter along with the applesauce. Put a little butter in large frying pan. Use about ¼ c. batter for each pancake, and cook over moderate heat for two minutes or till bubbles appear on the surface. Turn and cook other side for a further two minutes. Cover pancakes to keep warm. When serving, top pancakes with chopped pecans and syrup. Serves four.

Crumpets
2 c. white bread flour
½ t. salt
1 T. sugar
2 t. fast-acting yeast
1 ½ c. lukewarm milk
1 T. vegetable oil
Mix flour, salt, and sugar; stir in the yeast. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Mix to form a thick batter. Cover loosely and set aside in warm place for about one hour, until the batter is frothy and has doubled in size. Heat a large frying pan or griddle pan until hot and brush lightly with oil. Lightly grease four 3 ½ in. diameter metal crumpet rings and arrange them side by side in the pan. Ladle in batter to come up to a depth of ½ inch in each ring. Cook over low to moderate heat for about eight minutes until risen and the bubbles on the surface burst and set. Take care not to over-brown the bottom, then carefully remove the crumpets from the rings, turn over and cook for another minute to brown the top lightly. Transfer to wire rack to cool, and repeat process until all batter is used up. Makes 10 crumpets.