This may not seem like much of a recipe, or much of a story. Sure, even a mediocre chef can make pancakes.
But for me, pancakes represent something a little more complicated than a some batter and a hot griddle. They are a part of the family. In fact, they are deeply ingrained in my history, my consciousness. Pancakes are a part of who I am. Pancakes are in my DNA.
My father is the pancake guru, a griddle wizard, the Spatula King. No one makes pancakes as well as he does. There’s a quasi-secret recipe that I am pretty sure involves vanilla extract and yogurt, and for as long as I’ve known him, he always says “…and the secret ingredient is ‘love’!” But then he laughs in such a way that you know the joke is kind of on you. My guess is the world will never know exactly how he does it.
But dad has always been generous with his pancake-making. You would get pancakes on your birthday, complete with a candle stuck in the top. Come the middle of August, I remember stack after stack of birthday pancakes. My brother and sister got them, too.
We didn’t need a reason for pancakes, no special occasion. They were a frequent Sunday staple.
Beyond the pancakes themselves, there was my dad, standing over the stove, spatula in hand, wearing his apron, spray Pam and a giant yellow bowl next to the stove. Today, he has fancy pancake-making tools. He uses an frosting baggie to make special shapes. You can get your initials. You can get Mickey Mouse. The pancakes were — and still are — as much about my dad as anything.
So I decided to try making pancakes for the kids.
I do not have a special shape-maker. And I am a mediocre chef.
My first mistake was doubling this recipe :
1.5 cups of flour
3.5 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
1 tbs of white sugar
1.25 cups of milk
3 tbs of butter (melted)
Put all the powdery stuff together, mix it in a little bit, then get the eggs, milk and bugger in there and mix it up until it looks like batter. Lightly oil the griddle or pan and get to work.
So the first thing I did wrong was have the heat up too high. There were some dark pancakes, and that’s too bad. The second thing I did wrong was use too much batter per pancake. These pancakes were as big as Finn’s head, and that kid has a serious noggin. The kids each ate one. That and a small bowl of fruit was more than enough.
The other important part of pancakes, of course, is the syrup.
Most people will tell you to use some sort of expensive, glass-bottled maple syrup. That’s fine. It’s what I feed the kids, because there’s some in the fridge and they like it, and it is (theoretically) healthier.
I am an unapologetic Mrs. Butterworth’s user. You can take your syrup-judgement and go straight to hell. Me and Mrs. Butterworth are good, and I will not betray her.
*whispers to half-used Mrs. Butterworth’s bottle* It’s okay, baby, you don’t listen to them. I love you and all that sweet, syrupy goodness, okay? Me and you forever, that’s all that matters…
*sets bottle back in pantry*
Honestly, I don’t know why I love her… it so much. Something about the high fructose corn syrup maybe, or the sodium hexametaphosphate. Whatever, who cares. Those overcooked pancakes soaked it right up, and it was a delight.
I didn’t make these pancakes for any special occasion, other than it is finally Autumn in Florida and the weather’s a bit cooler, and the air a bit dryer. The noticeable change of season felt worthy of celebration. So I made pancakes, poured on crappy syrup, and lifted one big forkful right up to my dad.