Try these different takes on a breakfast staple
Sweet or savoury, pancakes are fast, easy to make and infinitely versatile
In a classic case of what's old is new again, pancakes are making a comeback, with sweet, savoury and even spicy versions that push beyond the usual stack of buttermilk flapjacks with blueberries and maple syrup popping up on restaurant menus everywhere.
Doughy and friendly, pancakes are fast, easy to make and infinitely versatile. They can be large or silver dollar-sized, thick or thin, and there's the opportunity to incorporate any number of different grains, or even ripe fruit and grated veggies.
Fans of thick, airy pancakes can go for extra heft by using carbonated water in their mix, or try the ultra-thick Japanese-style pancakes coaxed beyond the height of a crumpet or English muffin with a cuff made out of a strip of aluminum foil.
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Or try a Dutch baby — a dramatically puffed oven pancake similar to a Yorkshire pudding, which can be topped or filled with just about anything you can imagine, from berries to ice cream to something warm and savoury, like roast beef and gravy or butter chicken.
Or if you want to go thin, regular or buckwheat crêpes can be filled and rolled burrito-style, or topped with sweet or savoury ingredients with the edges folded over to contain them. Anything goes. After all, pancakes are at their best when used as a vehicle for other delicious things.
A Dutch baby is an eggy pancake that's baked in a pan in a hot oven, which allows the flour-milk-egg mixture to puff up dramatically into a bowl shape, much like Yorkshire pudding. Fill it with anything you like, from berries and cream to butter chicken.
This was made in an 8 ½-inch cast iron skillet; if you're using a 10-inch, up the quantities to three eggs, ¾ cup flour and ¾ cup milk.
- 2 tbsp butter.
- 2 large eggs.
- ½ cup all-purpose flour.
- ½ cup milk.
- Pinch of salt.
- Berries, icing sugar, maple syrup and/or whipped cream, for serving.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Heat the butter on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet, or put it into a pie plate and place it in the oven while you whisk together the batter. While it's heating, whisk together the eggs, flour, and milk; don't worry about getting all the lumps out.
Pour the batter into the hot pan and slide it into the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed and golden. Cut it into wedges and serve warm, with berries and whipped cream, butter and maple syrup or brown sugar with a squeeze of lemon. Or go savoury and fill it with roast beef and gravy or butter chicken.
Serving: Serves four.
Extra-thick Japanese-style Pancakes
These pancakes are thick enough to resemble crumpets or English muffins — the trick is to make a cuff out of aluminum foil to support the batter as it cooks in the skillet. Keep the heat low and put a lid or piece of foil over the skillet to trap the heat and help them cook through.
- 1 cup all purpose flour.
- 2 tbsp sugar.
- 1 tsp baking powder.
- ¼ tsp baking soda.
- ¼ tsp salt.
- ¾ cup buttermilk.
- 1 large egg.
- 1 Tbsp regular or Japanese mayonnaise (optional).
- 1/4 tsp vanilla.
- Canola oil, for cooking.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, mayonaise and vanilla; add it to the dry ingredients and whisk just until combined.
Make a few cuffs. To do so, tear off a piece of aluminum foil and fold it crosswise a few times to make a band that's about 1½ to two inches wide (I make mine the length of the width of the foil, if that makes sense, so that they're all the same).
Staple the ends together, making a circle (don't try tape, it will burst as the pancake rises and spreads). Rub the inside of each cuff with a bit of oil or nonstick cooking spray.
Set a heavy skillet over medium heat, drizzle with oil and wipe it around the bottom of the pan with paper towel. Place as many of the foil rings into the pan as you like, without crowding it too much, and fill it about halfway with batter.
Turn the heat down to low, cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and cook until the pancake has risen but still looks wet on top. Carefully flip and repeat on the other side, cooking until each pancake is springy to the touch (you may have to flip it a few times to get a feel for whether or not it's done — that's OK).
Peel off the foil cuffs to serve.
Serve warm, with butter and maple syrup.
Serving: Makes three to four extra-thick pancakes.