Friday, April 29, 2011

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 tries to eat on $6/day.

Today we're going to talk about what goes under the syrup. Why would we want to do that, right? Well, turns out that what goes under the syrup can be pretty darn tasty too.

Of course pancakes make a fun Saturday morning breakfast and even a quick throw together dinner, but since we've been doing our cheap eat challenge and eating hot breakfast more often than ever in our lives, I've also realized that it can be a perfectly good, rather fast every day breakfast as well. It's not cold cereal fast, no. But with a simple basic recipe like this one, it can be 15-minute fast. Easy peasy pumkpin easy, as we say in these parts. And bon appetit as they say in parts far far away.

P.S. To make it extra special and not much harder, top it with some homemade maple syrup.

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes
Makes about 6 three-inch pancakes
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 4 minutes per batch
Cost: $.35
(whole wheat: .18, milk: .16, other stuff: .01)

1 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 C milk (or buttermilk if you've got it around)

Note: This recipe originally came with an egg. One morning I didn't have an egg and it came out just fine. In fact I didn't even notice a difference. An egg would add a bit of richness and perhaps a bit of lift (though these get plenty of lift even without), so feel free to include one, but I usually don't.

Combine dry ingredients. Add milk and whisk together. Do not get the batter completely smooth. There should be a few lumps. Why? The more you mix wheat, the more the gluten organizes itself and sort of lines up (how's that for a scientific expanation), thus becoming stretchy and chewy. That's great for yeasty breads, but it will make your pancakes and quick breads tough and elastic-y. Overstirring will also release the bubbles from the baking soda too quickly, meaning you will have less to make your pancakes nice and fluffy. If you want a light fluffy pancake, do not over mix.

Put butter or oil in a pan and cook on medium or medium low. (Your pancakes should not cook so fast that they're burning before the middles are done and they should not take forever to get golden on one side.) I hate to say this, but you'll probably have to experiment with your stove in order to figure out your right temperature. I have not found any hard and fast rule that always works (such as 'when the bubbles are popping, it's time'. It might be time, but then, if you're stove is too hot, you might have burned the pancakes by the time the bubbles get to doing their thing.) The good news is that it should only take a pancake or three before you're getting the swing of things.

Tip: Pancakes can be kept warm on a cookie sheet in an oven set at 200 degrees for up to an hour.

Another tip: The dry ingredients can be prepared in bulk ahead of time and you can then use 1 C of dry ingredient to 1 C of milk to make the mix.


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