Friday, February 4, 2011

The Beet

Pancakes—the ultimate luxury


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

There's nothing like a huge stack of pancakes to make a day better. Everyone loves pancakes, whether they're smothered in fruit and whipped cream or simply layered with a ton of butter and maple syrup.

In February, when it hasn't snowed for a month and it's still bitter cold, pancakes can seem like the ultimate luxury. It's amazing how something so simple can seem almost sinful, but it's true.

Eating pancakes for dinner is a little like eating dessert for dinner, satisfying your sweet tooth without the guilt. After all, pancakes are acceptable as a full meal at some point during the day, right?

Pancakes are also enormously comforting, probably because of the significant amount of fat and carbohydrates hidden in each perfectly golden round. And, perhaps most importantly, it's a hot meal on a cold winter day.

That being said, pancakes are not easy to make correctly. Either the pan gets too hot and one side burns, or the pan doesn't get hot enough and you're left with a doughy center. It's far easier to over-mix, making tough pancakes, or under-mix, resulting in huge lumps, than it is to get the right consistency. A little practice is all that's needed, as well as plenty of backup ingredients so you can start over if things go awry.

These are perfect with whatever topping you like, but a cranberry syrup like the one listed below can elevate flapjacks from a Saturday morning standard to a Valentine's Day treat. Plus, it's way impressive when your guests find out you made the syrup from scratch. Enjoy.

Pancakes

From The New York Times

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar, optional

2 eggs

1½ to 2 cups milk

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1½ cups milk. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don't worry about a few lumps. If batter seems thick, add a little more milk.

Place a teaspoon or two of butter or oil on griddle or skillet. When butter foam subsides or oil shimmers, ladle batter onto griddle or skillet, making pancakes of any size you like. Adjust heat as necessary; usually, first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, after two to four minutes.

Cook until second side is lightly browned. Serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200-degree oven for up to 15 minutes.

Cranberry syrup

From Epicurious

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, chopped

1/2 cup water

Cook sugar in a medium, dry and heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork or flat whisk, until sugar is melted and turns a deep golden caramel. Tilt pan and carefully add cranberries and water (caramel will harden and vigorously steam—don't worry!). Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until caramel is completely dissolved, then pour syrup through a very fine sieve into a heatproof bowl, pressing hard on solids. Let cool.

Katherine Wutz is staff writer for the Idaho Mountain Express.




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