Recipes Articles Book Reviews Shopping Forum Contact

Pancakes, Flapjacks and Griddlecakes

by Hardy Haberman

Sundays have always seemed like pancake days to me. Whether they were cooked at home on my mom's old Sunbeam electric griddle or at the local pancake house, it just seems to be the right kind of food for a Sunday. A tall steaming stack of buttermilk cakes with heated syrup dripping down the sides make a sweet ending to a busy week.

Sunday mornings and pancakes just go together. If you don't believe me just try to find a table at any of the millions of restaurants that call themselves "Pancake Houses". Be prepared to wait at half an hour or more. America Loves pancakes!

Heart Shaped Pancakes So how long have we been in love with pancakes? They may just be the earliest known form of bread. The earliest pancakes were probably cooked on hot flat rocks, and with the exception of a little grit, they might have resembled Ethiopian injira bread.

Injira is a flat pancake made from a mixture of flour and water. After the mix is allowed to ferment for several days, it is combined with more water to create a batter which is cooked on a round steel pan over an open fire.

In colonial America, according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, the making of pancakes or flapjacks started in the United States around 1600. Some of the earliest colonial pancakes were corn meal "hoe cakes". Transplanted Africans, now slaves actually cooked over coals on the iron blades of hoes.

Today, little has changed in the basic cooking technique. Good pancakes still require an evenly heated surface, though few, if any people still use hoes. And, though opinions vary, most Americans agree that pancakes aren't complete without syrup, and not just any syrup. Pure maple syrup is the choice of connoisseurs. Once available in almost every brand of pancake syrup on the market, now few major brands offer pure maple syrup. Most are only maple-flavored. For the purist, Vermont Maple syrup is preferred.

Pancakes are in no sense strictly African or American. Almost every culture has it's own version of the pancake. Flapjacks, crêpes, crespelle, blintzes, adai, pfannkuchen, palacsinta, tortillas, pita bread. The simple griddle-cooked flat bread is everywhere.

Variations on the traditional flour pancake abound. The potato pancake or "Latke" is probably the most well known. Served with applesauce rather than syrup, these eastern European treats are favorites in many delicatessens.

In Korea, the Kimchee pancake or "Bindae Duk" is popular, though it is hardly recognizable by westerners. Made with pickled cabbage, it is definitely an acquired taste.

Pasta or noodle pancakes are also popular in many countries both Eastern and Western countries. Stuffed noodle pancakes called Pirogi (Russian) or Pierogi (Polish) are well-known in the US. From China comes the Mung Bean Pancake, probably better known in America as Moo-Shoo. These oriental crepes are great one dish meals.

For people in the south part of India, the "Adai" is the local specialty. This irregular lentil and rice pancake is very tasty.

Stack of Pancakes In Newfoundland pancakes are served with molasses. On Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, Newfoundlanders celebrate "Pancake Day". According to tradition, items are placed in the pancake batter before it is cooked. What one finds in the pancake is a prediction of the future. For example should a boy find an item for a trade, it forshadows his future in that occupation. For girls, discovering a trade-related item meant she would marry a person from that trade. Don't bite down too quickly, if you attend one of these festivals.

Pancake recipes from our Archives

Pancake Recipes & Recipe Links
Buttermilk Pancakes
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot griddle. Cook until bubbles appear and turn over. Cook until golden. Yields 15 pancakes.

Georgia Pecan Pancakes
2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine eggs, milk and vanilla in a smaller bowl and add to dry ingredients. Stir in pecans. Drop batter by the spoonful onto a well greased griddle and turn when bubbles appear. Garnish with chopped pecans and pecan flavored syrup.

The Dutch Baby
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Confectioner's sugar
Slices of fruit or berries

Preheat oven to 375º F. Melt butter in pan (oven-proof frying pan). In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, milk, eggs and salt. Stir until combined. Pour batter into pan and bake for 30 minutes until edges have risen and are golden brown and center is set. Remove from oven and dust with confectioner's sugar. Serve with fresh fruit. Serves 6.

More Recipes

Copyright © 2008 Epicurean.com
All rights reserved