Add to the list of things that I can't for the life of me figure out why I ever bought in a box: pancakes.
Pancakes and waffles are so easy to make from scratch.
Call me lazy, but I love a recipe that's versatile and adaptable to a number of uses. I like to think about it once and use it a lot - and this one definitely fits that bill.
I started with the basic pancake recipe from my favorite cookbook Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything", and I have adapted slightly from there to suit our needs. I like to use whole wheat flour to make them healthier, and real maple syrup for a more natural sweetener. My pancake recipe is a little sweeter than most, because I personally like for the pancake or waffle to taste really good without the need for syrup. I make a lot extra and keep them in the freezer to pop out for my kids for a weekday breakfast or lunch, and it's just quicker and easier if they already taste great without having to get out the syrup. But if you're going to only eat these with a generous pouring of syrup, then you'll probably want to cut back on the sweetener in the recipe.
Basic Pancake Recipe:
- 4 cups flour (whole wheat, or half whole wheat and half white)
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups milk (I use whole milk)
- 3 or 4 eggs - Enough to make about 4 cups of liquid when added to the milk & syrup, depending on the size of your eggs.
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (less if you plan on soaking your pancakes with syrup)
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled. (optional, I often leave it out)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- butter for your pan
Measure all the dry ingredients into a big mixing bowl and stir to combine.
For the liquid ingredients: I fill my big measuring bowl up to 3 cups with milk, then add the syrup and vanilla, then add eggs until it gets to around 4 cups of total liquid ingredients. Then mix all that together with an egg beater until well combined (or you can use a whisk). Then pour into the dry ingredients and stir gently until combined. Try not to mix more than necessary, this will help keep your pancakes nice and light.
For pancakes you want the batter to be pretty thin, they puff up a lot and stay nice and light.
Waffle batter needs to be just slightly thicker, so I use 1/4 cup less liquid if I'm making waffles - either use one less egg, or cut your milk back a little.
Then cook: Pancakes on a hot buttered griddle, or waffles on a buttered nonstick waffle iron.
I like to cook my pancakes in lots of butter, I think it adds that amazing final layer of flavor. Pour our a ladle full of batter onto a well buttered griddle. I have a big double sized cast iron griddle that heats really evenly and works great. And the extra big size is perfect for making a bunch of pancakes at once. If you are going to add extras I like to add it at this stage, when the top of the pancake is still wet. We love to add blueberries, or slices of banana, and mini chocolate chips are a fun little treat too. Then watch for a little browning around the edges and bubbles in the middle, and then flip. Serve hot with hot maple syrup, and we like to have whipped cream on ours too.
For waffles, a good waffle iron makes all the difference. I worked with a cheap one for years and I was amazed at how much better the waffles were with just a new waffle maker. They are light and fluffy on the inside, and lightly crisp on the outside. For a big family like ours, the kind that makes two at a time is a must-have. If you want flavored waffles then mix your extras into the batter. Finely chopped nuts are really great, or a little grated apple.
- This is a double recipe because we like a lot extra, but feel free to cut it in half.
- You can use all white flour, all wheat flour, or a mix of both. Or take out a little of the flour and add in some oats, or ground flax, or wheat germ, or oat bran - whatever you like to make them even more healthy
- I've also made these with gluten free flour and they work great. They key to that is to separate the eggs, mix in the yolks with your batter as usual, and then beat the whites until soft peaks and then fold in. The beaten egg white provides the light and airy texture that you miss without the gluten.
- Use less sweetener if you really are going to soak these with syrup.
- I've done this vegan many times and it works great. Just substitute flax + water for the eggs. 1 T ground flax + 3T water, per egg to be replaced. Mix that together and let sit for a minute, then add it just as you would add the eggs.
- You can use brown sugar instead of syrup in the batter.
- When I want to make this more of a 'complete' meal for my kids, with more protein, I'll add a little less liquid and more eggs, or add some protein powder in with the dry mix.
- Options for extra flavorings are pretty limitless. We love blueberry pancakes. Bananas or apples are great too. Finely chopped nuts and a little orange zest are really good in waffles.
- If you want to take the extra time, separating the eggs and whipping up the egg whites is also a great trick to get really light and airy waffles.
- For pancakes, I pour the batter on the greased griddle and then add stuff - a few blueberries, slices of banana or apple, chocolate chips, then flip them.