...here comes Pancake Tuesday!
A long long time ago, as good Christians prepared for Lent by ridding their cupboards of richness, eggs, milk, butter and sugar were whipped into decadent treats: raised doughnuts (malasadas) in Portugal, cream-filled buns (fastelavnsboller) in Norway, and pancakes throughout the anglophone world. A tradition was born and Shrove Tuesday was appropriately dubbed "Fat Tuesday". For us Anglos, we celebrate Pancake Day, a bacchanalia of griddled goodness. Around the U.K., locals keep the kilos off with pancake races, where apron-clad contestants flip flapjacks while running. Like models balancing books on their heads, this is an exercise in co-ordination, in a decidedly more carb-heavy fashion.
As a devoted pancake-lover (see my previous ode to the orbs here), I'm honoring this esteemed day by sharing my favorite recipe. For those adverse to cooking, I offer you my go-to spots to get your griddle on.
In an effort to add healthfulness to her son's eating, my sister turns to Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce's terrific tome of whole-grain baking. Proving that increased nutrition need not equal decreased taste, these oatmeal pancakes are addictively tasty. All the comfort of oatmeal combined with a good wallop of butter makes for a moist & delicious, morning treat.
Adapted from Good to the Grain
Makes about 18 pancakes
3/4 cup oat flour (you can make this by pulsing rolled oats into a food processor or spice grinder until finely ground; 1 cup of oats yielded 3/4 cup oat flour for me)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra for the pan)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup cooked oatmeal*
1 tablespoon unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses or 1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs
Whisk the dry ingredients (oat flour, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the butter, milk, cooked oatmeal, honey and eggs together until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a light hand is important for tender pancakes; the batter should be slightly thick with a holey surface.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed onto the pan. Rub the pan generously with butter (Boyce says this is the key to crisp, buttery edges) Working quickly, dollop 1/4-cup mounds of batter onto the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Once bubbles have begun to form on the top side of the pancake, flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is dark golden-brown, about 5 minutes total. Wipe the pan with a cloth before griddling the next pancake. Continue with the rest of the batter.
Serve the pancakes hot, straight from the skillet or keep them warm in a low oven. We also found these to reheat surprisingly well the next morning, again in a low oven.
Do ahead: Although the batter is best if using immediately, it can sit for up to 1 hour on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator. When you return to the batter, it will be very thick and should be thinned, one tablespoon at a time, with milk. Take care not to overmix.
* Make oatmeal, if you don’t have any leftover: Bring 2 cups of water, 1 cup of rolled oats and a pinch of salt to a boil and simmer on low for 5 minutes. Let cool. You’ll have some extra oatmeal, which you can eat while you’re cooking.
For those who fancy their flapjacks out on the town, here are two of my favorites, on both coasts, for bountiful brunching:
At Cooks County, in L.A., buckwheat packs their pancake with nutty, fermented heft. Move over Stevia; homemade huckleberry compote and kumquat butter are 100% natural, seasonal sweetners. This baked behemoth begs to be shared--I recommend the short rib hash for a savory pairing.
Keeping true to their name, Brooklyn's Buttermilk Channel slings a superlative stack of the buttermilk classic. Freckled buttery brown and pillowy soft, these comforting cakes are what I wish to make at home, yet rarely achieve such a successful crispy-to-doughy ratio. Wash it down with one of their magnificent Bloody Marys.
All over the U.S. of A, IHOP is celebrating National Pancake Day by offering free flapjacks all day & night, raising money for local charities. Sounds like a wonderful way to support your community (and your belly).