February 21, 2012

1 2 3 4 Puffy Pancake

Today is Mardi Gras!  Traditionally one eats pancakes today, because, of course, they are filled with things that used to be forbidden during the lenten fast--eggs, milk, butter, and a side of bacon.  And whenever I want pancakes, I actually want a puffy pancake, which is just about the easiest thing one can make for breakfast, and one of the easiest recipes in the world to remember. It's just 1 - 2 - 3 - 4.

1 cup of milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
some melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the eggs and the milk together, and then whisk in the flour.  Melt some butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet, and pour the batter into it.  Place in the oven for 30 minutes--till puffy and golden.

So that's the basic recipe, but I could write an entire book of variations.  A few to note:

Savory: cut up three or four slices of bacon, and fry them in the skillet.  Add some freshly ground pepper to the batter, and, if desired some snipped herbs or scallions or both. Use the rendered fat to replace the melted butter, simply pour the batter on top of the cooked bacon.  Cook for 30 minutes.

Pear / Apple: slice thinly an apple or a pear, and arrange in a circle on the bottom of the pan in the melted butter. pour the batter over and cook as usual.  Note: This will not puff as well as the plain pancake.

Cinnamon Sugar: You'll notice this pancake has no sugar. It is so light and airy and flavorful that I find sugar totally unnecessary (and therefore justify using more maple syrup or jam on top).  The one exception is when I want to make a cinnamon pancake. Putting the cinnamon in the plain batter ends up tasting dull.  But you also don't want to throw off the ratio too much, so I measure into a big measuring cup: 2 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp sugar. Then I fill up the measuring cup with flour till it reaches the 3/4 cup line.  I throw a little sugar on top of the batter to crystalize, as well.

A note on Flours: this can be made with other flours, with varying success. White whole wheat and whole wheat with the wheat germ still on ought to be sifted for levity, however, they both are fairly heavy and won't rise as much as desired.  Buckwheat has great flavor, but should be mixed with white rice flour for a hearty GF version. White rice flour is a pretty good substitute for a light and airy GF version. I've wanted to try potato flour, too, but haven't had the chance. I bet it would be good with the apples.

A note on pans: Personally, I don't think a kitchen is equipped unless it has a cast iron skillet.  But if you don't have one, then melt the butter in a little pot on the stove, and pour it into a ceramic or glass pie plate (not metal), coating the sides and bottom.  Do not use a non-stick skillet or a steel or aluminum one, as the pancake will burn.

Happy Mardi Gras!

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