Who Knew Pancakes Could Be So Good?

So buttermilk pancakes are the classic pancakes. Every time I hear about pancakes, at a restaurant, in a cookbook featuring some awesome breakfast, even on a box of powdered mix, it is all about buttermilk pancakes. Supposedly they are just “so good.” I have made lots of pancakes. I feel like I have a pretty good basic recipe. It does not involve buttermilk.

The waffle recipe I use is made with yeast. It requires making the batter the day before and letting it rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight. It takes some planning but good gravy those puppies are delicious. Recently I wanted to try something different so decided to try to make pancakes using yeast. I made that batter with some yeast and some baking soda. They came out really well. In fact, they were the best pancakes I had ever made.

I have never made pancakes with buttermilk in part because I never have buttermilk. I mean, what else do you make with buttermilk besides buttermilk pancakes? It isn’t exactly an item to keep stocked in the pantry. Or the icebox. Or whatever. I’m not going to go out and buy buttermilk when I can make perfectly good pancakes with regular old milk.

However (and you knew there would be a however), our CSA share recently started offering buttermilk. Our CSA share works a little differently than others. We get a quota of points each week and can use them for whatever they have–produce, eggs, honey, flowers. Last time we were there I grabbed some buttermilk–from a local dairy farm. I figured it was time to try making me some buttermilk pancakes.

I adapted the yeast pancake recipe I used before, adding buttermilk instead of plain milk. And let me tell you, those pancakes were crazy good–fluffy and light and buttery, and soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. Daggone those babies offered some good juju to my taste buds.

Next time we pick up our share I plan to get more buttermilk. I need to make more of those pancakes. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
extra butter for the griddle

Whisk together 1 cup flour, the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl.

Warm the buttermilk until just warm–too warm and it will curdle (but if it does, don’t worry, just mix it right in). Mix this into the the flour mixture thoroughly and set aside, covered with a towel. Let rise for about an hour.

Whisk together the remaining flour and sugar, the baking soda, and the salt in a separate bowl. Whisk the eggs and melted butter together in a yet another bowl. Make sure the griddle is heating at this point.

Stir down the yeast mixture and add the egg/butter mixture until well blended. Add the flour mixture slowly, stirring all the while, until just blended. Pour small amounts onto hot griddle and heat. Once each pancake is brown on one side, flip only once to brown the other side and to cook through. Do not be tempted to flip them again as they will lose their loft and will not be nearly as good.

Scrape down the bowl with a silicone spatula to get all that tastiness cooked up.

Waffle Explosion

Yeast Working Overtime

Yeast Working Overtime

My yeasted waffle batter certainly rose. When I stirred the warm milk/butter solution into the flour/yeast mixture last night, I was afraid I was being impatient and combining it too soon. My concern was that it was still too hot and the yeast would be killed. I am aware it is a living thing every time I make something with yeast. I did not want to wait any longer, however, so mixed it and stored it in the refrigerator to rise slowly. Good thing I put it on a plate.

My worries about killing the yeast were unfounded, as you can see. My bowl could not contain the risen batter, but once I re-stirred it it sank back down to a reasonable volume, so I heated the waffle maker and made up some waffles. We can only cook one at a time and so I kept dishing them out, all the children (sleepovers happening last night) getting a half or a quarter at a time. It isn’t a quick process. With fresh fruit and warmed maple syrup, however, it was well worth.

Does it take a lot of time and effort? Dude, yes. But I will so make them again, many times, they are that good. If you never make waffles, or if you are still making quick-rise waffles, you are missing out. Go old fashioned and introduce yourself to yeasted waffles. You will wonder why you never met before.

Breakfast not to be beat

Breakfast not to be beat–the chef gets a whole waffle after serving everyone else

Busy Kitchen Today

Ready to dress some pizza pies

My daughter is into making cupcakes lately. She got a cupcake cookbook for Christmas and has been busy crusting its pages with flour and eggs and confectionary sugar. She wanted to make some chocolate cupcakes today but did not want all of them to be chocolate. She was making half a batch (I mean, we can only eat so many cupcakes) so had to halve the ingredients to start with. Then she split the batter and planned to add cocoa to one half. She had to halve twice to figure out how much cocoa to add. It was a good math problem. And what a mess.

That got cleaned up. No problem. The kids have friends over for the night so we made homemade pizza for dinner. I spent some time slicing and sautéing and grating toppings so everyone could make their personal pie. I made the dough, even though we did not have enough flour when I started. I didn’t know we were short on flour but I found out soon enough. My wife was out and so eventually brought more, but the dough sat for a while before I could finish it off. It was quite the sponge.

Making individual pizzas takes lots of counter space. It was a respectable mess to attend to, but I cleaned up most of it before dinner and the rest after those pizzas were consumed. Dishes done, pots washed, counter wiped down. We’re good. Then it was time to make breakfast.

As a treat for the weekend and the sleepovers, I figured I would make waffles. The problem with that is that I need to start the day before. I used to make your usual baking powder waffles but once I tried yeasted waffles there was no going back. You make them with yeast instead of baking powder, as you may have guessed, which means they need to rise. Of course, if I let them rise on the counter I would have to get up a 3:00 am. Not happening. So I whipped up the batter and stashed it in the refrigerator. Slow rise, ready for breakfast.

This, of course, was one more mess to clean up, which I accomplished with a rosy attitude. I like a clean kitchen. I think I’ve got all the loose kitchen accoutrements and plates and spatulas washed at this point. I was thinking I might have a little ice cream. But that would mean another bowl to clean. Nah. Who needs ice cream anyway?

More Ice Cream

Made chocolate ice cream again this afternoon. Dang good stuff. I rushed it, however. My son wanted to help. His idea of “mix well” is a couple turns of the whisk. I knew I needed to mix and melt the chocolate more thoroughly, but I caved to his impatience. It has a few cocoa-ish bits floating in it. The upside is that they seem lit little cocoa nibs. High end confectionary.

I made waffles to start off the day. These were old fashioned yeasted waffles. I made the batter last night, popped it in the refrigerator, and this morning–easy waffles. And they are way better than the waffles I typically make with baking powder. Of course, they also have a lot more butter in them. OK, my usual recipe has no butter in it, but if it did, it wouldn’t have as much as these yeasted puppies. Can’t argue with butter, however. It makes everything taste good.

And salad–lots of salad today. My parents came to visit for the weekend. They stopped to pick up their CSA farm share right before they left, so they arrived with a cooler full of greens. We ate greens and salad with dinner. They have a full share and let me tell you that is WAY too much food for two people. Last year the farm did not produce so much. Greens out your ears.

Good food today. That happens in the summer, when I don’t have places to go all day. I like that. We will eat well again tomorrow. Bacon and eggs for breakfast. That isn’t typical fare in this mostly vegetarian household, but it’s Father’s Day. Bacon for dear old Dad.

So we seem to have a theme here–fat. Butter, cream, pork fat. In moderation, however. Everything in moderation. We didn’t eat all the waffles. The ice cream is in the freezer. Bacon? Can’t imagine all that will get eaten. We will have to make sure to snack on more greens tomorrow. All that lettuce needs to get gone.

Waffle Cabin

Up at Bolton Valley they have a Waffle Cabin, a shack outside the main lodge that sells, uh, waffles.  It was not open when we were there yesterday in the afternoon.  Not sure what was up with that.  Why wouldn’t you have this unique snack shack open on a beautiful day during school break?  Seemed like a missed opportunity to me.

We went up for night skiing tonight.  The kids wanted to try it and this was as good a time as any.  It was pretty much perfect–warm, soft snow, not crowded at all.  The corporate race event was happening and they got a kick out of that.  They had so much fun they did not want to stop.  Twice we did just one more run, then we had to get home for bed.

We checked when we got there to make sure we would get a waffle before the hut closed.  We had plenty of time to ski before then so we got in a few runs first.  My daughter is shredding it up these days.  She has gained a lot of confidence and so is really having lots of fun now.  We could say I told you so, but what would that accomplish?  Our little guy has lots of ground to cover.  Maybe next year he will get it.

The waffles were dang good.  Crispy and fatty and covered in chocolate.  And warm.  They had been recommended by a friend so highly that we had to try them.  I had seen the building and was curious, but could take it or leave it.  Then Nicole talked it up, telling us she would look forward all day to having one of the waffles when she knew she would be up there.  She was right about them.  I want another one.

It is the perfect example of word of mouth marketing.  The place has high visibility but no real flash.  It does smell good when things are cooking and word has now spread.  Knowing this now, I really can’t figure out why they would not have been open yesterday.  We may go up again tomorrow (the kids are now eager to hit the slopes again) and that place better be open if we do.  I’m already jonesing.