If anyone loved me as much as I love pancakes, they’d give me Twelve Days of Pancakes, starting with the perfect griddle and ending with the funnest flours. Luckily, I already have all I need in that department, but if you want to prove your love via pancakes, here are some hints.
The perfect griddle is flat and has a lip, and is made from a metal that distributes heat very evenly. My griddle is cast aluminum and from who knows when. If you can find one like it at a thrift store, go for it. Fear not the blackened layer on its surface. A good one new is this Lodge cast iron griddle.
I would stay away from the ones that cover two burners – I don’t think you can get the heat even. I do think they would frustrate you. And nonstick has nothing going for it. I don’t put butter in my pancakes, as a rule, so they only place they get fat is on the griddle.
For a spatula, I have two thin metal ones I like to use. When they are hiding and I have to use a stiffer, thicker turner, I have a little fit. Having a very thin flipper to slide under the pancake is what you want. You’re not lifting a hefty wedge of lasagna. Silicone or plastic ones, nope.
A reasonable whisk is handy for pancakes. Here’s a nice set of three – because you can never ever have too many whisks. And you might need two if you mix your eggs and milk first and don’t want to glom up your dry ingredients as you whisk them.
That’s about enough stuff, though you could go crazy with pancake acoutrements, like kitsch galore maple syrup dispensers: we have a cow that we use to serve syrup on fancy days. Maybe you want to give a dedicated set of pancake plates. I have a set of four plates I like to use, just old diner ware, with three lines along the edge. The pancake looks neither too big nor too small upon it.
Once you’ve whetted the appetite, don’t skip the pancake mix. New Hope Mills makes popular mixes, but it is almost too easy to make your own.
I’ve made a buckwheat mix and put it in coffee bags with directions, and gave little jugs of maple syrup with it. I’ve made a whole grain mix, too, and packed it in mason jars, skipping the syrup because money was tight. This year I’m making cornmeal rye mix because I am on a cornmeal rye jag.
I think they are about the best combination ever. Not just for pancakes but for muffins too. The flavor and texture of these two flours is just really nice. The cornmeal is gritty but not too gritty, and works well with the rye. I can’t quite describe the taste – it doesn’t have the sweetness of whole wheat that swoons me, and is different from the straight up greatness of corn.
Like any good married couple, cornmeal and rye work together to make something better than they can be on their own.
The combo has a long history in America, and you can find it by a bad name in old cookbooks, Rye & Injun. Rye is not as fussy to grow as wheat – it can take colder temperatures, and soils that are not stunning, so it was common in hard times.
For my mix, I’ll use organic cornmeal and rye flour from Farmer Ground Flour, stone ground from NYS grains. I have also used a pumpernickel flake with good effect – and I just like the way this rye flour looks, kind of fluffy because the grind is not perfectly smooth.
RECIPE: CORNMEAL RYE PANCAKE MIX
- 1 cup stone ground cornmeal
- 1 cup rye flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- Whisk together dry ingredients and package as fancily as you want, a mason jar for instance.
- Then write out all the directions below on your gift tag:
DIRECTIONS FOR THE GIFT TAG
1 cup mix
1 cup yogurt or buttermilk. (You can also suggest 1 cup milk with 1 tsp cider vinegar.)
1-2 eggs, depending on how much protein you want in your breakfast
Combine thoroughly with a whisk. Let sit for ten minutes to help the flours absorb the liquids. Heat a griddle until water beads up and dances when flicked on the surface. Melt a half teaspoon of butter on the griddle, and ladle a few spoonfuls, leaving them room to spread. Turn when bubbles start to form just around the edges.
Offer this gift with home delivery and you will be adored.