Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mrs. Judson's white-and-wheat pancakes

Since "whole wheat" breads, etc., taste bad to me, but at the same time I don't think using just white flour is all that healthy, I've had to adjust most cookbook recipes, or make up my own recipes altogether when it comes to breads and noodles and that sort of thing. (Somewhat-whole-wheat cooking hasn't been properly discovered yet, or something.)

After reading an aside in an old cookbook to the effect that it had been discovered decades before that sourdough starter wasn't needed for a foamy pancake batter - that plain old lemon juice would do in its stead - I dumped my sourdough starter (it was a bit too much like having a fussy pet, when it came right down to it - a pet that smelled, no less), and started in on devising my own faux sourdough, somewhat-whole-wheat pancakes. After a bit of experimenting, I came up with the following.

Right off the start I'd like to note that these do not have the tang associated with sourdough. They don't even have the tang I expected from the lemon juice. But they are airy and tasty, all the same.

Mix together: 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar.

Add: 2 tablespoons cooking oil, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup milk, and 1/4 cup water.

Mix until smooth, and then add water a little at a time until you have the batter as thin as you like. (As a rule of thumb: the thinner the batter the thinner the pancakes will be.)

Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let sit a minute or two to get foamy.

Pour by scant quarter cups - or whatever size you like - onto preheated fry pans or on a griddle. On my stove, a setting halfway between medium-low and medium works best. Cook until edges are dry and center is riddled with air holes, then turn over and cook the other side.

If you aren't used to cooking pancakes, don't worry if it takes a bit of practice to learn how to get them just the shade of brown you want. There's an old saying in cooking that the first pancakes of any batch are never as good as the ones that come after. It's all a matter of learning how the pan's heated up this time, and of course no two batters are exactly the same, and the weather might possibly be a factor, and...

Here, now, if you're a novice, don't let me scare you off. Making pretty good pancakes is relatively easy, with just a bit of experience. Making gorgeous pancakes, on the other hand, is where a bit of finesse comes into play, as well as a willingness to experiment a little. (Is that why so many men like to cook pancakes? I wonder... At any rate, it's the sort of cooking that rewards someone who develops a knack for it.)

I use nonstick frying pans, usually two at a time so I can keep the cakes coming. If you don't use nonstick, you might have to use more oil in the recipe, or else grease the pans. This last go-around I used olive oil, and we decided we liked it better than the veggie oil I'd used before. But we liked it with the veggie oil, too.

Added: Most cookbooks suggest cooking pancakes at high heat. My pans aren't supposed to be used at high heat, and I get fine results at the lower setting - but you might want to experiment with the higher heat, depending on your set-up.

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