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A Passion for the Pancake (And Why Not?)

Why celebrate this fluffy disc of delish? Any food with the versatility of the pancake deserves a fête in its honor! First, pancakes are quintessential breakfast – a comfort food to sink into, which combines home cooking with the feeling of a special day. Pancake breakfasts mean conviviality – it’s the perfect food for fundraisers, fairs and churches. It’s the food you turn to to celebrate Christmas morning or the first day of school. In fact, the pancake breakfast is so iconic, it even serves as a popular gift that comes with an unspoken message of extravagance.

But there’s a lot more to the pancake than AM fare. Pancakes are a dinnertime pleasure as well, thanks to their ability to serve as the perfect foil for veggies as well as fruit, and combinations can be both lip-smacking and healthy. It’s true — “healthy pancake” is no oxymoron. If you are thinking of the ‘cake as a delivery system for butter and maple syrup, get pancake-savvy. It can actually be the foundation for many healthy ingredients!

For example, it’s a shoe-in for incorporating copious amounts of wild blueberries. Blueberry pancakes are a classic, and it’s easy to forget that sumptuous pile of mottled blue heaven is providing big health benefits and powerful antioxidants. By incorporating such tasty possibilities, it’s easy to take a break from syrup-lathering. Instead, use low fat sour cream and walnuts along with your blueberries. Or, go a different way, and improvise with spinach, oatmeal, cinnamon, peanut butter or coconut.

Some people have such a passion for the pancake, it’s no surprise there is a blog devoted solely to the pancake’s virtues, or that they show up on magazine covers in all their photogenic glory.

So join the fun and show the pancake some love. Here are some ways to revisit the delightful, unique, versatile pancake.

Creating the Foundation

Creating a well-cooked pancake is crucial to the experience – dry cakes often lead to compensating with too much butter and syrup. But when they are perfectly rendered, such less-than-healthy dolloping is unnecessary.

  • Easy on the stirring: slightly lumpy batter makes a tender cake.
  • Have patience and get the griddle up to temp first.
  • Cook half way, then flip only once.
  • Add berries to the pancake on the griddle, not the batter.
  • The first pancake never comes out well. Give it to Fido.

Kenny Shopsin on Pancakes

If you don’t know Shopsin‘s in New York, you’re missing out. Kenny Shopsin has a love-hate relationship with the pancake (and with everything, really) but deigns to offer this advice.

  • Heat the griddle until a drop of water bounces off the surface.
  • If the pancake puffs out and doesn’t spread, it’s the right temperature.
  • Think of the pancake as a record album, with an A side and a B side. The A side is the side that cooks first. Serve plain pancakes or pancakes with ingredients in the batter A-side-up. Serve pancakes that you’ve sprinkled ingredients on B-side, or topping side, up.

Mike & Mode offers up Shopsin’s Pumpkin Pancake Recipe.

Pancakes for Dinner

One of the best things about pancakes for dinner is that they are cheap and easy to assemble when there’s nothing else in the house. Got a bowl? A spatula? Eggs, flour & milk? Then you’ve got dinner.

Feeling plucky? Try Chicken-Pot Pancakes tonight.

The Unique Pancake

When it’s the season for zucchini, there are simply not enough ways to slip this veggie into unsuspecting foods. Give Zucchini Feta Pancakes a try while you can.

The Classic Pancake

Classic buttermilk pancakes provide the peak experience of pancake eating. They are light, they have a complex flavor, and because the buttermilk acts as a leavening agent when combined with baking soda, they achieve an elegant fluffiness. Martha ought to know – here’s her best buttermilk pancake.

The Healthy Pancake

Add ½ cup of wild blueberries, and you are getting your daily dose of a powerful antioxidant. Nutrition can be delicious!  In addition to the beloved blueberry pancake, try this brilliant vegetable pancake, or go for a complete fruit explosion.

OMG! Pancakes

Killer pancakes and syrup featuring blueberry cassis relish and blueberry syrup. OMG.

The Once a Year (Uh, max) Pancake

You know they are out there—and they’re good. Just go easy.

Syrup – A Great Way to Go Local

Pure, raw, maple syrup is nature’s gift to local eating, and it’s a healthy alternative as well. In addition to a pancake pour, it can also be substituted for granulated sugar in most recipes. Honey, especially fresh honey from local farms, can be delicious with pancakes used sparingly, and jellies and jams are a perfect way to avoid sugar.

Other options to top your ‘cake include nut butter such as soy nut, cashew or almond (think omega-3s). Or make your own scrumptious topper with these ideas:

These syrup alternatives provide healthy options.

Cooks.com has maple syrup made simple.

Syrup gets daring with mango and ginger mint.

Mulled maple syrup makes a simple, golden cap to any ‘cake.

Nutrition, pleasure, contentment, local eating, and ease. This underrated sphere of delight really does have it all!  Fire up the fry pan, pile on some healthy ingredients, and keep your PJs on a while. See you at breakfast.

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