Whenever I have a little time in the morning, I like to make pancakes for my family. I don’t use boxed mixes or anything like that but prefer to scour the internet for interesting (and easy) pancake recipes. You might think that there isn’t that much variety in pancakes but everyone has their own take on the pancake. Some like to use buttermilk, some require a little white vinegar to fake the buttermilk. I never have buttermilk or white vinegar handy so I try to keep it even simpler.
I found a recipe that I like over at Chocolates and Chai and I’ve used it enough that I’ve basically memorized it. Pretty much. Occasionally, I find the need to consult on how many teaspoons of baking powder, etc.
Well, I’m on paternity leave this week and that’s left me plenty of time to do things I like to do but rarely have the time to do. (Blogging, for instance.) Given that I have no timeframe for being out of my pajamas, I decided to make pancakes for the family this morning.
In order to maximize efficiency, I’ve not only (mostly) memorized the recipe but I’ve also hit upon an order of operations that minimizes time spent. I need two tablespoons of melted butter so I start that first. Three quarter cups of milk is also required and I like to let it approach room temperature so the butter doesn’t clump up when being mixed. This becomes important later. Go ahead and beat the egg and have it ready. My pan doesn’t heat quickly so go ahead and get it started.
I mention the order because I had already gotten through all these steps when I realized I did not have enough flour to make pancakes. I had maybe three quarters of a cup rather than a full cup. Mom stayed with us this past weekend and used the already dwindling supply of flour to make a cobbler. But, being a baker, I figured I’d make do. All I really had to do was cut back on the amount of milk in the recipe and everything would be fine. We’d just a few less pancakes.
Did I mention I was on paternity leave? Yeah. My new son is just over a week old. He sleeps like the proverbial baby. Fitfully, and in two hour stretches. So do we all. Assume I’m working on serious sleep deprivation.
One thing I’ve found in making pancakes is that it matters how you add the melted butter. If you add it to the milk, the hot butter clumps up and doesn’t mix well. I’ve found that mixing the milk and egg together, adding them both to the flour mix and then adding the butter prevents clumping and allows everything to mix well. In my sleep-addled state, I remembered not to add the butter directly to the milk. Instead, I added it directly to the sparse amount of flour, before adding the milk and eggs. This has the effect of creating clumps of buttery flour that will absolutely never mix with any other ingredient, further reducing the amount of usable flour in my recipe.
Nothing to be done about it now. Moving on. Add the milk. All the milk. All the milk. Remember how we were going to cut back on the milk? I didn’t.
Being a baker can sometimes require a little creativity in the kitchen. There are always substitutes when you’re out of ingredients. Right? I could use a little rice flour, for instance. I don’t have any rice flour, but I do have rice. I can just…you know…crush some up. Surely that works. I also have a little corn starch. Corn starch will thicken it up, right? Right? Worth a try so I add a tablespoon. Hmmm. Better make that two. It’s a little thicker, right?
Add another egg. That’ll help it keep together. And that’s about as good as it’s going to get. I could keep adding corn starch but I’m not sure what that’s going to do to the flavor.
Whatever. I’m committed now and there’s no going back. Finish off the recipe with a little vanilla extract. Was that one teaspoon or two? I can’t remember. And I don’t want to look it up. There are two teaspoons of baking powder and two tablespoons of sugar. It’s probably two teaspoons of vanilla extract. I’m sure.
(It’s one, btw.)
At this point, I have a thin gruel and there is no way this is going to make a pancake. But it might make a crepe.
So that’s what I did. I made crepes. And, sitting down to eat, they weren’t that bad.
And then I remembered that I forgot the salt. Maybe next time I’ll re-read the recipe before making the attempt.
But probably not.