re-re-learning the basics: pancakes redux

When all else fails, read the manual.

The online recipe resources provide an ease of use (one printed page versus propping up/open a book), a variety of options, and the advantage of feedback and commentary that sometimes can make cookbooks look like CD players in the age of iPods — not quite obsolete, but certainly getting there.

But sometimes, the recipes that have been around for generations have survived for a reason. And more than sometimes, it pays to learn how to walk with the basics before you try to run with the fancy tricks.

After trying pancakes for the first time with whole wheat flour and blueberries and not quite succeeding, I took a step back and made a new plan.

I pulled out my copy of The Joy of Cooking.

Basic Pancakes

(from The Joy of Cooking)

1.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1.75 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar

1-2 eggs (if using two, separate and beat whites, which are folded in last; I used one)

3 tablespoons melted butter
1-1.25 cups milk

Apart from working with an untested recipe, my previous pancake adventure had me working with an unfamiliar pan. My griddle is a Guardian Service piece, which the parental rightly informs me was produced in the 1950’s and Google tells me is now something of a collector’s item. (The factory burned down in 1956.) It is made of aluminum and is considered “bulletproof,” although I would rather not test this literally and stick to making pancakes. Also, when not in use, it’s actually clean and pretty, if not sparkling like the ones on the fansites; I keep forgetting to take a picture.

The recipe worked exactly as it was supposed to — I could tell before I even ran the test pancake — and so my real lesson for today was to learn how ‘fast’ the griddle is. And the answer is pretty darned fast. I heated it properly this time — a few drops of water flicked on to the surface skittered around instead of sitting there — and went to work.

The griddle was hot enough that I was overcooking the first ones by the time I got the fourth ones down and reached for the camera to take a picture. But eventually I got a grasp on things and the top picture is actually the final pancake, one giant one to finish off the batter. The smaller ones were measured out with a 1/8th cup measure.

My learning curve, in picture form:

(Also my Hockey News yearbook, a cow corncob holder, and the Paris issue of Gourmet, but such is my dining room table.)


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