Friday, February 22, 2013

When Artists Cook: They Pile on the Pancakes!

Hi everyone, Bethann Merkle here, by the time you read this, Lent will have begun.  For centuries, the day before Lent has been known as Shrove Tuesday.  It is also called Fat Tuesday (Mardi gras), a last opportunity to indulge in decadent foods for six weeks.  For a similar reason, the day has also long been referred to as “Pancake Day.”  It is said that pancakes are a fine means of using up foodstuffs not acceptable during Lent.

While all these monikers have their origins in Catholic traditions, Mardi gras and Pancake day have long been popular beyond religious boundaries.  This year, Pancake Day fell on February 12.  Only three days earlier, the Calgary-Quebec Exchange hosted the 57th annual pancake breakfast as part of our local carnival celebration.

If you observe Lent, tuck away the following recipe for next year. If your traditions are more flexible, make a pancake breakfast in February, and be sure you use all those tempting ingredients - eggs, dairy, fat and sugar.  

This recipe comes from my husband (and his dad), who is solely responsible for pancake production at home. If you would rather try crêpes, see this recipe posted around Pancake Day last year.  If you have gluten-free pancakes you love, please share the recipe in the comments.

Southwest pancakes
As adapted from a family recipe
Makes 3 large or 6 small pancakes

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • A pinch each of cinnamon and cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk or milk
  • 1 egg

  • Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg vigorously, then whisk in buttermilk.
  • Add egg and buttermilk to dry ingredients, and whisk until batter is smooth.  
  • Use bacon grease, oil with a high flash point, or a truly non-stick pan, and ladle the batter on.  
  • Use less batter if you like thin pancakes; more if you like them thick.  Note that cooking time increases with thickness.
  • Serve warm with plenty of butter, maple syrup, and any other toppings of choice.  The pancake chef, chez nous, recommends fresh fruit or peanut butter and honey.

Photo by Bethann G. Merkle
As one griddle team prepares for a fresh batch of pancakes, the neighboring crew flips the last golden cake. (Flapjack breakfast during Quebec City’s Winter Carnival)
Do you have a favorite pancake recipe? I would love to hear about it.