Saturday, November 21, 2009


What’s round and extremely tasty?



Pancakes rank right up there with the best Comfort Foods. They evoke warm memories of childhood, of leisurely weekend mornings. And these may be the best I ever tasted.

The recipe comes courtesy of the Food Network’s official Food Nerd, Alton Brown. I suspect Brown’s übergeeky TV persona is just that: a persona. It’s perhaps a fitting one owing to his knowledge of food science, which knowledge is useful in understanding why a given recipe or kitchen technique will work better than another.

He’s a local guy, you know. One of these days, I figure, I’ll bump into him as he’s filming a segment in Harry’s Farmers Market just down the road.

A few weeks ago I caught a “Good Eats” episode in which the good Mr. Brown was expounding on the proper way to make pancakes. This got my attention, as our homemade pancakes, while good, never seem to measure up to the ones the commercial establishments make.

Alton’s recipe isn’t especially complicated. He likes to make up a good-sized batch of premixed dry ingredients - flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar - which he keeps on hand just in case a Pancake Jones should strike.

It’s what he does with the other ingredients that makes magic happen.

He separates the eggs and then mixes the whites with buttermilk and the yolks with melted butter, after which he combines these two mixtures. The wet ingredients are then dumped on top of the (preblended) dry ingredients and whisked together - but just barely. (If you beat the batter enough to remove all the lumps, you’ll cause the flour’s gluten to develop, resulting in rubbery cakes.)

I tried out his recipe, and I am happy to report that the results are not merely good, they are ridiculously good. Maybe next time I’ll stick some blueberries in ’em... but they’re fine sans fruit, decorated with a pat or two of butter and a liberal drizzle of warm maple syrup. (Real maple syrup, thank you - none of that Log Cabin / Aunt Jemima / Mrs. Butterworth crap.)

Don’t you want a flapjack right now? A whole mess of ’em? Sure you do.

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