[68] Pancakes

Cover of The Healthy Kitchen, by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley

Pancakes. Bill and I love us some pancakes. By now, readers of this blog are probably fairly familiar with this.

Our “first recipe”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/6-1-Whole-Grain-Griddle-Cakes.html was pancakes. We didn’t even get 20 recipes in before “we did a second pancake recipe”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/38-19Everyday-Pancakes.html. Our first actual encounter with “a duplicate recipe (a.k.a. recipe #45) was pancakes.”:http://www.metacookbook.com/archives/87-Well,-was-it-a-new-recipe-or-not.html

So, yeah. We like to make pancakes on lazy weekend mornings. Somehow, I suspect we’re not the only Americans who eat homemade pancake recipes so often. Given the sheer number of Americans, I bet we’re not even the ones who have tried the most recipes in the shortest time. But we might get there. Or we might find our perfect recipe and forget trying any others.

That would certainly make this challenge harder.

So, here’s a recipe that’s about being healthy. Good food, good for you. It uses beaten egg whites to achieve light’n’fluffy greatness. It also calls for a bunch of toppings, but we ignored those.

h2. Ingredients

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/3 c freshly squeezed orange juice (We, being hippie-heathens, used some organic juice from a box.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 c milk

1 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour (We used whole wheat all-purpose flour. See the “heathen” thing above.)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

h2. Instructions

Beat the egg whites until fluffy and firm (~2 min, they say). Feel free to use your standmixer, handmixer or arm + whisk here. Whatever you like.

Beat the egg yolks with a fork, then add the orange juice and vanilla and mix until foamy. At that point, add the milk and mix it in just a tiny bit.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well. Once blended, pour in the milk mixture and mix until the dry ingredients are wet and there aren’t any flour clumps. Slowly & gently fold in the egg whites, mixing minimally.

Heat 1/4 tsp in a flat-bottomed pan or griddle over medium heat for about a minute, then make pancakes in 3 tbsp increments on the griddle. Cook until bubbles form, then flip and cook for an additional two minutes. Don’t feel any need to butter your griddle after the first time. Or something. Either serve or keep warm until serving.

h2. Cooking and Consumption Notes

h3. Cooking

First, let me say this. It is cookbooks like this one that make people think heating healthfully is tasteless, boring or hard. I imagine that most people who look at the cooking directions here think what I did, namely, “They really think 1/4 tsp is going to be enough butter for 12 servings of pancakes? Are they nuts? Do they really say 3 tbsp for a pancake? Is it really going to spread that much?”

The answers to these questions, in order, are yes, yes, yes and no. I ended up using a 1/4 c measure to scoop out the mixture. A lot of it stuck to the measure, so you don’t get full 1/4 c batter on the skillet at a time, but this makes a fine-sized pancake. We won’t discuss the 2 tbsp they call for to get “medallion-sized pancakes”.

As for butter, well, I honestly tried to make them with only 1/4 tsp butter. Yes, in my hard-anodized aluminum skillet, they didn’t stick after that addition. I don’t think they would have stuck before that addition, honestly. However, butter (as we’re all very aware) adds flavor. So, here’s the deal. Use the appropriate amount of butter to make the pancakes not stick, and no more, if you’re really worried about calories or fat content. For me, this would have been “none”. If you’re less concerned with these things, as I am, use a bit of butter between each batch. You don’t need a lot to add a bunch of flavor to these pancakes.

I would never have attempted to make these without some sort of motorized mixer. I’m just not a “beat egg whites until super foamy or more by hand” kind of woman. Thus, my standmixer comes out to play when I have to whip egg whites. I love my standmixer, and I use it all the time, even though it doesn’t live on the countertop.

So there, naysayers.

Anyway, back to the beating of the egg whites. I do not actually know what “fluffy and firm” egg whites look like. I do not know if this is some kind of common cooking vernacular, or something Daley & Weil made up to keep us home cooks guessing. I really more know terms like, “soft peaks” or “stiff peaks”. Or “prior to X peaks”. So I beat these until they looked awesome, but just before soft peaks formed. Then Bill poked at them as we discussed what the hell “fluffy and firm” meant, and declared they seemed firm enough to him. If having your friend/roommate/partner/work buddy/mechanic poke at your egg whites doesn’t appeal to your desire for precision, I suggest you poke at them yourself.

Flour is the thing, yo. I have a lot of recipes that call for funky flours. Often, I can’t find these in bulk bins to regulate my purchasing. None of them call for the same funky flours, the bastards. This leaves me not particularly desiring to buy funky flours for any recipes. So, my house has unbleached white all-purpose flour, whole wheat all-purpose flour and bread flour (which I regret buying). There’s no whole wheat pastry flour, and I don’t see it entering any time soon. The regular whole wheat worked fine in this dish. I’m sure pastry flour, with it’s lower protein content would have, in fact, made the pancakes lighter. I don’t care. They were already quite light.

Bubbles didn’t really show up on the tops of these pancakes. You will have to decide when to flip them based on instinct. YOU CAN DO IT!

h3. Consumption

Well, finally! A decent recipe out of this cookbook. It’s not perfect and needs some tweaking, but it’s there.

I liked them well enough, but wanted a bit more inherent flavor. Next time I might up the amount of whole wheat flour and reduce the white flour. I think that would give an interesting nuttiness. Or something.

Bill really liked these. He felt they tasted kind of eggy. I didn’t get that, basically at all. A couple of bites where the egg whites hadn’t quite been folded in as well, and that was awesome. So, I think that would have been a win, had I gotten it. Less mixing next time, maybe.

They are super puffy and light. I do think that if you served several at once around a breakfast table, it wouldn’t actually take that many to be filling and satisfying. Bill and I have a tendency to make pancakes and eat them as the come off the heat, so we probably each ate more than we needed. That said, we probably still had a third of the batter leftover at that point. Of course, a third of the batter is, in theory, four servings so we ate eight servings between the two of us. I’d say, “ouch”, but I don’t really feel that way. I think that serving estimate is high. Possibly not for the “shoulds” of good health but the “wills” of reality. Most people “will” eat more pancakes than the recipe expects them to.

We’ll likely make this again, and see if we can’t make it into our go-to lazy weekend morning recipe. It’s close, at least. (Though Bittman also has a pancake recipe that calls for beating the egg whites like crazy…)