Make no mistake. Whether it's pancakes, waffles, French toast or any other breakfast item, those made from scratch — without preservatives and where you have control of the ingredients — is miles ahead in flavor, texture and purity.
Pancakes are also commonly known as flannel cakes, griddle cakes, flapjacks or hot cakes, depending on which region or country the recipe comes from. But all begin with a basic batter.
Nothing could be simpler than this mixture of eggs, milk and flour, and maybe with a little shortening in the form of fats or oils. The fats shorten or break up the gluten, making the final product more tender. Other ingredients — nuts or seeds, fruits and flavorings — may be added as desired.
Pancake and crepe batters should be thin enough to pour, similar to the consistency of heavy cream. When cooked, the batters may be transformed into delicate crepes, which inspired Jewish cooks to stuff them with sweet and savory fillings, thus creating the blintz. (These crepes may be frozen to be filled and then fried as needed).
Stacks of fluffy pancakes and crisp crusted waffles make for hearty breakfasts, and even a solid lunch or dinner. Top with fruit and whipped cream for dessert.
A waffle iron with a built-in thermostat ensures a perfect product every time, but if you can't part with the iron inherited from your mother or grandmother, test by heating the waffle iron so that a drop of water bounces off the surface when the temperature is right.
Some items, like pancakes, really need to be made at the last minute. Use a large skillet or one of the electric griddles, and six or more may be cooked at once. If the table is close to an electrical outlet and there's no danger of loose cords, plug in the griddle and/or waffle iron, supply the batter and toppings, and let breakfasters make their own.
Tips for Pancakes & French Toast:
· Heat the skillet or griddle on medium heat or set at 375° for about 10 minutes to preheat before cooking pancakes or French toast.
· Mix batter in an 8-cup measure with a handle and spout for easy pouring.
· Pan and batter must be separated by a thin film of oil or fat. Rub a crumpled-up paper towel, dipped in oil, over pan surface.
· Turn pancakes as soon as they are puffed and bubbles begin to break all over the surface.
· Serve immediately or keep warm in a single layer on a towel-lined cookie sheet in a low-heat (225°) oven. Don't stack! This produces steam, which will make pancakes and French toast soggy.
Gigantic Golden Fruit Puff
2 Tbsps. butter or margarine
3 Tbsps. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 medium apple, thinly sliced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. orange extract
Heat oven to 400°.
Melt the butter or margarine in a 9-inch pie dish by placing it in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over.
Top with the apples and scatter raisins over. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk, flour, oil and orange extract until just mixed. Do not overbeat! Pour over the apples and raisins.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or till puffed up and golden-brown.
Immediately loosen edges of pancake. Turn out onto a heatproof platter and serve.
Serves 4 to 6.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 246; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 35 g; fat, 10 g; cholesterol, 101 mg; sodium, 43 mg.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp., plus 1 tsp., baking powder
4 eggs, separated
2 Tbsps. honey
11/3 cups vanilla-flavored nondairy creamer
4 Tbsps. margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans
In a large bowl, stir together the flours and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and honey.
Add to the dry mixture along with the nondairy creamer and margarine.
Stir in the pecans.
Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold in.
Pour about 1/3 batter over the waffle iron, close and let cook until waffle is crisp and golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Waffle is done when the iron stops steaming between the two halves.
Serve with preserves, honey or flavored syrup.
Makes 5 to 6 waffles.
Approximate nutrients per waffle: calories, 395; protein, 10 g; carbohydrates, 45 g; fat, 21 g; cholesterol, 142 mg; sodium, 400 mg.
Pioneer's Corn Pancakes
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 Tbsps. honey, warmed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsps. corn oil, plus oil for greasing
In a bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal and baking soda.
Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, honey, eggs and 2 tablespoons oil. Stir until flour is just moistened.
Lightly grease a large skillet with additional oil, heating over medium heat.
Pour in about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook until the bubbles which appear on top burst, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook until other side is golden-brown, about 2 minutes.
Serve hot with maple syrup or salsa.
Makes about 16 4-inch pancakes.
Approximate nutrients per pancake: calories, 103; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 16 g; fat, 3 g; cholesterol, 28 mg; sodium, 119 mg.
Beer-and-Beef Griddle Cakes
1 cup soft brown breadcrumbs
1 cup beer (may be flat)
1/3 cup chopped breakfast beef
3 Tbsps. pareve margarine, melted
1/4 scant cup pareve soy milk
3/4 cups self-rising flour or 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 11/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, beer and beef.
Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, margarine and soy milk. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper.
Pour over the beer mixture and mix well.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Grease lightly with vegetable oil. Drop the batter, about 1/4 cup at a time, onto the hot skillet.
Reduce heat to medium.
Cook until nicely browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook other side to brown. Serve hot.
Makes 8 to 10 griddle cakes.
Approximate nutrients per cake: calories, 131; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 11 g; fat, 7 g; cholesterol, 47 mg; sodium, 224 mg.
Baked Challah Toast With Plums and Cherries
4 Tbsps. butter, cut in four pieces
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup pitted cherries, canned or frozen
3 pitted plums, canned or fresh, cut in quarters
2 tsps. grated orange rind
5 slices (1/2-inch thick) challah
11/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Place the butter in a 9-inch square baking dish. Microwave on high for 40 seconds, or until butter is melted.
Stir in the sugar and spread over bottom of dish. Cover with the cherries and plums, and then sprinkle the orange rind over.
Arrange the challah over the fruit in one layer. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over challah, pressing down to soak.
Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
Bake for 35 minutes, until puffed, golden-brown and center is firm to touch. Serve at once.
Serves 4 to 6.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 368; protein, 10 g; carbohydrates, 45 g; fat, 17 g; cholesterol, 181 mg; sodium, 280 mg.
Café au lait
2 cups strong hot coffee
2 cups hot milk
Pour the coffee and milk simultaneously into mugs so that you have a hot, milky mixture.
Sweeten with sugar.
Makes 2 to 3 servings.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 100; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 8 g; fat, 5 g; cholesterol, 22 mg; sodium, 80 mg.
1/3 cup Scotch whisky
4 tsps. sugar or to taste
2 cups hot, strong coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
ground nutmeg to dust
Warm 2 mugs or coffee glasses. Pour half the whisky and 2 teaspoons sugar into each mug or glass. Stir to mix.
Pour the hot coffee over, and stir once or twice.
Float a dollop of whipped cream on top of each. Dust lightly with nutmeg. Serve at once.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 220; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 9 g; fat, 11 g; cholesterol, 41 mg; sodium, 12 mg.
2 flavored tea bags
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
sugar or honey to taste
Pour about 2 cups boiling water over the tea bags. Let steep for 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the orange and lemon juices. Sweeten with sugar or honey to taste. Serve hot.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 14; protein, 0 g; carbohydrates, 3 g; fat, 0 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 0 mg.