A plethora of pancakes

One of the things I love about cooking is the enormous amount of variation that can be found in even the simplest of recipes.
For example, take the humble pancake. Flour, leavening, eggs and milk combined into a thin batter and poured on a hot griddle. What could be simpler? And yet I doubt I have ever gone to a restaurant or breakfasted at someone else’s home without encountering a new variation on the theme.
I grew up on Bisquick pancakes. Everything was ready to go in a box except the milk, so pancakes were one of the earliest things I learned to make. Bisquick pancakes tended to be very fluffy, big, and slightly dry, which wasn’t a problem since we always drowned our cakes in Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup. Come to think of it, I don’t know if they sell Mrs. Butterworth’s down south. The syrup bottle was shaped like a woman in an apron. Do they still sell it like that?

But I digress.

Sometimes, if dad were in the right mood, we would break tradition with Bisquick, and he would make ‘silver dollar’ pancakes. I don’t think the batter was anything special, but it was very thin, and he would make piles and piles of little tiny pancakes, and we girls would see who could eat the most.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, my best friend used to invite me to stay with her at her grandparents house for a few days every summer, and they would take us to the Weyerhauser mansion for breakfast. There, my scrawny, nine-year-old self would order the “Lumberjack Breakfast”. In addition to bacon, sausage, eggs and hash browns, it came with a stack of pancakes big enough to cover an entire plate, and an ice cream scoop of butter on top. Not surprisingly, I never finished it.
I also remember a few times when one of my uncles would come over on Saturday mornings and make us buckwheat pancakes, just like his mom used to make them. Oh, those heavy, wheaty flapjacks were a trial for our picky, white flour palates, but we tried our best to muscle them down, so as not to offend him.
And speaking of uncles and pancakes, every year at our family reunion, another of my uncles would make fabulous blueberry pancakes, using a closely guarded secret recipe. There were rumors that there was vodka in the batter, but I never found out for sure.
There are the round Aebleskivers my Danish cousin taught me to make, and “skinny pancakes” that a junior high friend introduced me to. I later found out they were really called crepes.
Then there is the dutch baby, the german pancake, or as we call it, the puff pancake, because it rises to such heights in the oven before it collapses.

I think I’ve made my point.

The pancake recipe I am going to share today is different than all of the above, since it’s main ingredient is sour cream. I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s blog, but I have altered it some to suit our needs. I was reticent to try this recipe for a long time because I couldn’t imagine a pancake with so much sour cream could look or taste like a pancake. But once I finally did, it became our family favorite. Oh, and it’s super simple. So here we go.

Here’s what you need-

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Crack four eggs into a bowl.

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Then just dump in the whole 1 lb container of sour cream, along with a good splash of vanilla extract.

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Mix it up.

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Then just stir in
2 cups of flour
and
2 tsp baking soda.

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It’s going to be lumpy, and that is good. “Leave it lumpy” was the first law of pancake making, according to my mother.

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Now because I altered the original recipe, I sometimes find that the batter is too thick, so I thin it down with a little milk or buttermilk until it is the desired consistency.

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Then just find your favorite griddle or skillet. I use my Cuisinart Griddler. Even thought it is non stick, I always use plenty of butter.

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Cook them like any other pancake, letting them get bubbly on the edges before you flip them.

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And there you are! We’ve graduated from Mrs. Butterworth’s to real maple syrup around here, so that’s how we serve them, but jam is very nice too.

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What’s your favorite pancake?

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Cake

I’ve always loved the concept of brunch. It speaks of having the freedom to get up late, fix a leisurely meal, and take so long eating it that you run into lunch time. It speaks of holidays, vacations and quiet Sundays. And for me, it also speaks of my dad. My dad worked in the restaurant industry for most of his adult life, and sometimes, particularly during the busy holidays of mother’s day or Easter, he would have to work on a Sunday.
There was one restaurant in particular that had him working more often on Sundays. But when he did, that meant we got to join him at his restaurant after church for Sunday brunch. It was a very fancy restaurant called the Rose Room, and it was located on the top floor of one of the nicest hotels downtown. As a little girl, I remember the enormous feeling of importance I would get as we entered the elevator and fought over who got to punch the button for the top floor. And then we would step out into the lobby of the restaurant, which was all decorated in soft rosy pinks and sparkling crystal.
We were always made much of when we came. Six little girls in their sunday best trooping behind their mother was always a sight to see, and heads would turn as we found our way across the room to our table. Dad would come out, beaming with pride, and introduce us to some of his regular diners. He would pick up his baby and show her off as he visited different tables, and then, we were allowed to order our drinks. This was always an exciting thing, even though we invariably ordered the same drink every time- a Shirley Temple with a maraschino cherry on top.
On one memorable Sunday, before we even had a chance to order, six waiters, dressed in their crisp black tuxedos, came gracefully out of the kitchen doors, each bearing a tray held conspicuously high, with a single Shirley Temple in the center of each tray. They took a long time to reach us, winding their way through all the tables in a dignified parade, dipping and tilting their trays without spilling a single drop and drawing every eye in the room. They finally delivering our drinks individually with a bow and a flourish. We were delighted.
Then we would take our plates and move through the buffet line, skipping the cold salmon and caviar and moving on to the fruit and pastries. What can I say, my eight year old palate was not so well developed as it is now. But those were good memories, and I try to find an excuse for brunch whenever I can.
Thanksgiving works fairly well, since we don’t usually sit down until 2 or 3, but it is such a busy cooking day, that a simpler brunch is sometimes called for. I used to make the french toast casserole that can be made the night before and thrown in the oven in the morning. But then I found a recipe for blueberry pancakes that you bake in a casserole and I was intrigued. I tweaked it here and there and it quickly became a family favorite, and so, without further ado- Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Cake.

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Let’s start with our blueberries. You will need two or three cups of fresh or frozen blueberries. Toss them with 1/4 cup of sugar.

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Then mash them slightly, just until they get a little juicy. Set them aside

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This next step is not necessary, but it makes the dish oh so special. Get a lemon and a grater or zester.

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Zest the whole rind and mix it with another 1/4 cup of sugar.

20131127-230234.jpgThe oils in the rind mix with the sugar and will make a crunchy, lemony topping. Set this aside.

While you make the pancake, get your butter melting. Turn your oven to 350 and throw about six Tablespoons of butter into a 9×13 pan. Put this in the oven. You want your pan hot and your butter sizzling by the time the batter is ready.

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The cake itself is incredibly easy. Just
2 cups of flour (I used one cup of all purpose and I cup of whole wheat here)
1 Tablespoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt.

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To the dry ingredients, add
2 cups of buttermilk

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And 10 Tablespoons of melted butter.

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Thats it. Just mix until smooth.
Your pan should be ready by now, so pull it out.

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Pour your “pancake” batter into the hot pan. The melted butter will pool up around the edges, which makes the edges of this dish something we all fight over.

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Now grab your reserved blueberries and spread them over the top of the batter.

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And then, if you didn’t skip this step, sprinkle the lemon sugar on top.

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Bake this for 30 to 40 minutes, until the edges are a deep brown, and it is no longer jiggly in the middle. Oh, and it should smell pretty fabulous too.

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See the crispy, buttery edges. Man, that stuff is good.

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Serve yourself a generous plateful, and enjoy your leisure time. Or rush to pop your turkey in the oven as the case may be.

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Happy brunching, and Happy Thanksgiving!