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Pancake & Waffle Primer

Pancakes or waffles make the basis for many great meals because they go together so quickly and they’re so versatile. This basic recipe makes enough for a good-sized hungry family (two or three adolescents with leftovers to freeze if you are lucky) but can easily be cut in half to accommodate smaller or fewer appetites.

As with muffins you can actually leave the butter or oil out of the batter. (just make sure your griddle or waffle iron is well greased though.) The total calorie count is, of course, dependent on what you put on top. You can use butter and maple syrup which is traditional in the Northeast. For a low-calories, calcium- and vitamin-rich meal, try them with unsweetened yogurt and sliced, slightly sweetened fresh fruit.

  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 quart buttermilk, yogurt or sour milk (or 1 quart sweet milk with 1/4 cup vinegar or lemon juice plus 5 minutes to clabber)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter or vegetable oil (optional)

Mixing

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.

In a second bowl, beat the eggs and buttermilk together until they are light and fluffy. Add the butter or oil. Take about 20 seconds and blend this mixture into the dry ingredients. Don’t overdo it. Pancake and waffle batter is like muffin batter; a light hand in mixing means a light pancake on the plate.

Cooking

For successful pancakes, use a griddle that heats evenly. Cast iron is particularly good. Preheat and grease your griddle or waffle iron.

Pancakes

To test for correct pancake cooking temperature, sprinkle a few drops of water onto your griddle. The water should “dance.” Using a quarter-cup measure or an ice cream scoop, pour your batter onto the griddle leaving enough space for each pancake to expand. Turn them when the bubbles on the top surface pop and don’t fill in. The second side takes only half the amount of time needed to cook the first.

If you are using a well seasoned cast iron frying pan or “spider”, or a non-stick griddle, and if the batter has butter or vegetable oil in it, it probably won’t be necessary to grease the pan after the first batch. Pancakes can be stockpiled in the oven on “low.”

Waffles

Most waffle irons come with directions, but here are some general guidelines if you don’t happen to have any.

Preheat the iron until it’s just beginning to “smoke” and grease it just before you put the batter on. (A pastry brush is a good tool for this job.) Unlike a pancake griddle, a waffle iron usually needs to be greased each time you cook a waffle. To get the batter from the bowl to the iron, an ice cream scoop again is useful. Place a scoopful of batter in the middle of the iron. When you close it, the top will force the batter out to the edges.

Although waffle irons differ, a waffle usually cooks in 2 to 4 minutes. When steam stops pouring out from under the lid, check to see if it’s done. If the top doesn’t want to lift up, it probably needs another minute or two. A well seasoned iron will “let go” of the waffle when it’s done.

Waffles are best eaten right from the iron if you like them crisp. Even in a warm oven, wrapped in a clean dish towel, they are apt to soften if you stockpile them like pancakes.

Variations These are written for pancakes but can be applied to waffle batter as well. Light Pancakes: Separate the eggs and add only the yolks to the liquid ingredients. Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks and fold them in last. Cinnamon Pancakes: For added zip, sprinkle a little cinnamon on the pancake before you flip it (or on the waffle before you close the lid). Banana Pancakes: Fold 1 or 2 cups of mashed or chopped ripe bananas (2 to 4) into the batter. Fruit or Berry Pancakes Fold 1 to 2 cups of washed berries or sliced fruit into the batter. (Try a combination of sliced applies and grated Cheddar cheese.) Pumpkin Pancakes Add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to the dry ingredients. Told 1/2 to 1 cup mashed pumpkin onto the batter and reduce the other liquid by the same amount. Hearty Pancakes Substitute 1/2 to 1 cup of cornmeal, rye meal, oatmeal, wheat germ or bran for an equal amount of unbleached flour, and/or add 1/4 to 1/2 cup sunflower, sesame or poppy seeds. Ice cream sandwiches made with fresh waffles are a treat. Frozen yogurt in place of ice cream minimizes the calories but offers the same combination of textures.