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100% Wholewheat Pancakes & the Gold Rush

by on October 17, 2009
 

What do they have in common?

All around

Yep, you guessed right – (almost) every country has staked a claim!

See when it comes to pancakes, we’re talking about a kind of free for all – ‘First come, First served’ type thing! Is there any country on earth that doesn’t have some version of whisked/mixed batter fried or baked? I don’t think so. Just like the gold rushes.

Dutch pancakes

From Crepes in Paris…dressed with everything from Nutella to Creme de Marrons (chestnut puree),

Crepe stand Crepes off the griddle Bad flipCrepe toppings again Crepes in progress (1)Spread it One down Almost readyCrepes with a smile Creme de Marrons What do you want on your crepesCrepe stacks Lolipops

 …to Poffertjes in the Netherlands,smothered in butter and covered with icing (confectioner’s) sugar,  there’s every variation you can think of, under the sun. Pikelets, Blinis, Dosas…are only a few to mention!

Poffertjes resturant For Poffertjes... Batter in potThe pan - industrial sized Batter in pan Special 2-pronged forks for flipping overOperation clean-up 2 a side, flipping over Men at workPlating up Plated...and plating Butter on topDredged in icing sugar Perfect Liquor for your poffertjes

Even the gold diggers ate a variety of ‘primitive pancakes’.

According to Wikipedia:

Sourdough was used by prospectors and pioneers to make sourdough pancakes without having to purchase yeast. Prospectors would carry a pot of sourdough to make pancakes and bread as it could last indefinitely, needing only flour and water to replenish it. Sourdough pancakes are now a particular speciality in Alaska. Vermont pancakes usually have oatmeal or buckwheat flour added to the wheat flour, and require more baking powder to rise. The texture is coarser and the flavor more intense. The pancakes are served with maple syrup.

“German Pancakes” or Dutch baby pancakes served in American pancake houses are bowl-shaped. They are eaten with lemons and powdered sugar, jam, or caramelized apples.

The pancakes are similar, yet so different. From tthe type of flour used – everything from regular wheat flour to buckwheat (the stuff soba noodles are made of) and cornmeal, rice flour, oatmeal, nut meals, ground seeds; the predominant flavour – sweet or savoury; Added raising agents – baking powder and baking soda to yeast and sweet wine/beer to the size and how it is served! 

In the Netherlands, pannenkoken are ‘large’, some as large as wagon wheels. But these same Dutchmen have their poffertjes. Scotch pancakes or drop-scones and pikelets are small in size…but delicious nevertheless. Vietnamese pancakes are sometimes folded…like calazones. I could go on and on and on!

History done, this is how we, in our family…. have ours! Because I am constantly striving to ‘feed’ the kindjes a variety of foods, I make sure when we have pancakes, its almost buffet style. It generally consists of 5 main elements:

1) The pancakes themselves – almost always made with wholewheat flour (except if I run out…and I try not to); sometimes ‘texturised’ with chopped nuts

2) Some protein, which tend to be sausages and bacon;

3) Dairy – Yoghurt or Creme Fraiche commonly;

4) Fruits – whatever is in season but most commonly – bananas, apples, strawberries or all 3;

5) Syrups – #2 and I go for Maple (my husband screams it is too expensive, especially at the rate #2 ‘drinks’ it. I think a move to Canada is very well in order); Hubby and #1 go for caramel syrup and #3 says ‘chuga’ (sugar)- he’s learning to talk!

Essentially, that’s the basic composition for the pancake buffet. Jazzing up ideas will come later.

We have them for breakfast…though strictly speaking we shouldn’t…according to the Dutch, who never eat pancakes for breakfast (and scorn those who do!) I remember a conversation that went like this recently:

Me – ‘Do you ever eat pancakes for breakfast?’

Dutchman – ‘Me? Never. ….Only when I’m in America, but in Holland, never!’

Was I shocked? Yes. Does that affect when we have pancakes in our home? 🙂 Never!

I always do my best to use wholewheat flour. Why? It just tastes better (to me). There’s something intensely satisfying about being nourished with tasty, nutty, healthy foods made of wholegrains. However, when I first started making pancakes, I would put all the ingredients in the bowl at the same time and just mix to desired smoothness. But I noticed that my pancakes just weren’t cutting it – they were quite crumbly and soft, till I saw a friend do it different.

First the eggs were whisked in a bowl and the milk added (and yoghurt/buttermilk), then whisked again. A pinch of salt and flavourings (vanilla, cinnamon) are thrown in, follwed by flour and baking powder, bran and nuts if using. This resulted in wholegrain pancakes with a better structure….and less crumbling!

Now, just like wholegrain waffle batter, it is important to let the mixture ‘rest’ for 10-15 minutes to let the grains absord the liquids and ‘rest’. The aim here – a smoother, fluffier pancake, which cooks well and tastes great!

Eggs MilkMilk in whisked eggs ButtermilkAll whisked Pinch of saltCinnamon and vanilla powder Wholemeal flourWholemeal flour - great Good oat bran Oat bran in mix Ladle

 Now, we all love pancakes so when we sit down to eat, we work our way through a healthy stack. I really hate to stand for hours flipping one pancake after the other so when I want to make a stack…to conserve energy and honour my ‘cook-in-bulk green kitchen tip’, I use 3 pans! Saves me time and energy: imagine making a whole batch of pancakes in a third of the time, plus you don’t really have to do any rewarming since they stack well and preserve the heat without going soggy (unlike waffles)!

The batter is fairly easy to cook but you have to know the signs of ‘doneness’! Nice little bubbles, sometimes a glossy centre with a matte rim…. you can always lift the edge up to check the degree of browness.

Triple pancakes Hot pancakesBubbling In the pan

And when it is ready, without further ado, out come the syrups,

Common syrups

and the toppings…..from the fruit

For the pancakes

to the protein….

Sausages and Bacon

No barriers, no limits, no disturbances.

Bowl of Strawberries Caramel over bananasGrated Gouda Cheese Apple chunks with mintA bite Icing sugar topping

Just good food. Plain and simple….No holds barred is how I like to think of it! 

Some toppings

Pancake recipe

Makes between 16 and 20 pancakes

Ingredients
4 eggs, whisked
2 cups of milk (or 1 cup milk, I cup yoghurt or buttermilk) To be honest, I’ve also used all yoghurt, creme fraiche….on days I run out of milk!
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2  teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, optional
2 cups wholewheat flour (or 1 1/2 cup wholewheat flour, 1/2 cup oats or oat bran, nut meal etc)
2 teaspoons baking powder
handful chopped nuts, optional
PS: if you’re looking for the sugar, I don’t put any in! No one in my family eats pancakes on their own…they always drizzle some syrup on so rather than have 2 sources of sugar, we make do with one
How to
In a large bowl, whisk eggs
Add milk (and yoghurt), mix well to combine
Add salt and flavourings to the mix if using, whisk again
Slowly whisk in the flour and baking powder
Add chopped nuts if you like
 
Leave batter to rest – in the refigerator or on your counter for 10 minutes. I’ve found that if I leave my batter for too long, I end up with super-soft pancakes, which aren’t welcome in this home, except maybe by my son…. so watch this/experiment. You may have a different result!
 
Once batter is ready, heat 3 pans up till hot, on medium to low heat before greasing. I use an oil spray or a brush dipped in oil to coat my pans . (Adjust batter to your needs: want thinner pancakes, add some milk, want thicker ones…just add flour)
 
Ladle in the pancake mix, ensuring that the heat is on medium – low so you don’t burn the pancakes.
 
Let the pancakes cook on the first side for 2-3 minutes until the edges begin to bubble…and turn somewhat lacy. You’ll also notice the change in the pancakes surface from wet and shiny to dry. Flip the pancakes and let the underside cook for another minute. This always makes me laugh to see one side cooking for longer than the other!
 
If your timings and mine are different, worry not. The aim is to have ‘cooked’ pancakes on boh sides so do your best to accomplish that!
 
Repeat till all your batter is used up and serve, lovingly…with peace and joy.

Pan...cake

And while this is hardly a stack (blame the kids who can’t wait till its all done)…it gives you an idea!

Pancake stack

Leftovers freeze beautifully (I should know, I took a stack to Rome!), keep well for at least a week in the Fridge, can be transformed by stuffing, quesadilla’ing…and more!

Ham and cheese pancake quesadillas

To make a pancake quesadilla, you’ll need a pan, some pancakes (you can use them straight from the fridge) some cheese and meats like ham, chicken, turkey – use your imagination.

Prepare your fillings in readiness. Heat a pan (in my case a griddle, though a regular frying pan is good too).

Place one pancake down and let it brown a bit, about a minute or so, then place ham and cheese on. Put the second pancake to cover the filling and then flip over and let the otherside warm up as well = another minute or two. Slide of unto a plate and cut into wedges. Great as appetisers, for brunch – I’m sure you can think of many more ways to use it!

Heated pan Grate cheesePlace one pancake in heated pan Place cheese on hamPlace second pancake Flip overThe other side is baking Ham and cheese pancake quesadillas

A ball of vanilla icecream, some caramel…., nutella and peanut butter! It is an endless list. Lunchboxes, Quick dinners, Family meals – the choice is yours! 

Pancakes