Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Passion for Pancakes

I've been really into making pancakes lately.  It all started back in May when we went to Maui and brought back a package of Hula Girl Lemon Lavender pancake mix.  The mix was simple - just add water - but the end product was delectable.  The lemon flavor was delicate and subtle - a perfect balance for the tiny dried lavender buds that ran throughout.  For me, putting maple syrup on these pancakes seemed sacrilegious (though my family happily drowned theirs with it) so I opted to top them with honey the first time I made them and with lemon curd the next.

Fast-forward to today and of course, I don't have any of that delicious mix anymore but am craving pancakes like a madwoman.  Luckily for me, my sister gave me an electric pancake griddle for my birthday a few years ago so experimenting in this medium is pretty simple.  You already know this about me, but I have NOTHING against shortcuts, so I start with a boxed pancake mix.  Lately I've been using Trader Joe's Buttermilk Pancake & All Purpose Baking Mix.  For my family of five I mix 1.75 cups of mix, 1 cup (and a few tablespoons) of water, and 1 egg.  This creates the base, and is only the beginning!

These amounts generally result in about 10 or 11 (4 to 5 inch) pancakes (2 for each of us is ENOUGH - having pancakes is bad enough, we don't need to also pig out on them....) But (as usual) I digress...

Certain add-ins are mixed right into the batter, and others are added on top of each pancake as the first side is cooking up on the griddle.  For example, last weekend I made apple-cinnamon pancakes by mixing in a 1/2 cup of applesauce and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon before cooking.  This was a suggested variation on the mix box.  I also want to try mixing in ricotta and lemon zest.  This morning, on the other hand, I started cooking the pancakes and while the batter was still very raw on the top of each I sprinkled blueberries on the top, then flipped as usual.  This method also works very well with bananas/walnuts and (dare I say it) chocolate chips.

Another fun thing to do is water the batter down considerably to make thinner, flatter, crepe-style pancakes.  These are absolutely divine with dulce-de-leche (which I'll soon teach you guys how to make at home or where to find in Portland).  In fact, panqueques con dulce de leche (literally translated as pancakes with dulce de leche in case you couldn't figure it out) is a very popular dessert in Argentina.

To be honest with you, I've actually been really into lemon curd (the kind from Trader Joe's) lately and have only topped my pancakes with this.  It didn't work as well with the apple-cinnamon pancakes as it did with today's blueberry pancakes (YUM), but I imagine it'd be amazing over some crepe-style pancakes (or even mixed with some cream cheese and THEN drizzled on).  The possibilities are simply endless.

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