Monday, January 21, 2008

Cooking, Pancakes, and the Crisis of Year 2000.

Cooking is part science and part art, so they say. When I cook, I am usually hoping for a dash of dumb-luck, since I am untrained in the culinary ways. Vegetable beef soup suits me just fine because one can throw things in until it tastes right, if it doesn't, give it a new name, and serve it up. The fact is that many common dishes are the result of necessity, scarcity or abundance, and leftovers. Pizza, being the most famous.

My favorite time to cook has always been in the morning, especially when my children were, well children. It's quiet, the coffee smells good as it brews and one has the time to prepare without interruption. Saturday morning was usually french toast, sometimes waffles and sometimes pancakes, plus eggs, bacon and orange juice. For the french toast, I'd buy a fresh baguette, slice it, and make small almost bite-size pieces. Small slices have more crispy sides per square inch, easily slide around the pan, and kids love them (put a little extra oil in the pan, get it "french-fry" hot and the toast will be crispy).

A couple years ago my wife bought a wheat grinder and buckets of whole grain wheat kernels. I think this was the "stock up for the coming crisis in the year 2000" era in our home. On day 2, year 2000, we were still there, with electricity and everything else before the crisis, so I decided I better figure out a way to consume a garage full of wheat. (I'm not exaggerating by much, trust me). Hence, whole wheat pancakes.

Here's the good part.

Whole wheat pancakes, made from freshly ground wheat, are about as good and tasty a breakfast as one can have. This I am not exaggerating. They have all the good taste of pancakes with the addition of a rich, nutty flavor from the whole wheat -- and if made right, fluffy too.

What made me think of this was a recipe for whole-wheat pancakes in the New York Times this week. The author claims to get fluffy pancakes from whole wheat flour. I never had that much trouble with it and I used the Betty Crocker cookbook recipe that my wife has had forever. The two recipes are similar, the Betty Crocker recipe uses buttermilk, which I prefer.
Whichever recipe you use, remember:
-- Do separate the eggs, whip the whites (I do it with a fork), and fold them into the batter.
-- Don't over stir when adding the wet and the dry ingredients. 5 - 7 seconds is plenty.
-- For a special breakfast, find some real maple syrup, even a grade B. There is a difference.

Here's the recipe:

Tomorrow: my crazy (but I think, best) way to eat whole wheat pancakes


jeromey said...


i can't wait to try these!

normally, i hate pancakes. bland, boring, dry, white bread cakes with high fructose corn syrup on top are not my idea of breakfast...

...but whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup - now this could be something!

...maybe with nuts and bananas too!


cwheat said...

Want to know the only thing better than a good saturday morning breakfast with fresh coffee and the sunlight just peeking through the kitchen window?

Easy. Breakfast for dinner.

Coming home and cooking pancakes, sausage, and some cold milk after a long day at the office is one way to wind down and enjoy the evening.

And oh yes, I second the motion of bananas and nuts - pecans to be exact.

Just thinking about it makes me grin.

Francis Shivone said...

jeromey -- I'm with you on most pancakes. Trust me, these things are delicious. I would toss sliced bananas into the pancake after I had poured them. Nuts would be perfect. I thought the post was too long so I saved what I do for toppings until tomorrow.

And CW -- I agree, and actually kept batter a couple days in the fridge so that I could have them at night.