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Intro to Advanced Pancakes


Pancakes containing bananas, chocolate chips, and walnuts. 

The following is a condensed road map to the rich, delicious wilderness of pancakes from scratch. The mix is all well and good, but it ultimately tends to make pancakes that are a bit boring – at least to anyone who’s had the real thing.
The following recipes are partly from some cookbooks that my mom had around when I was in 3rd grade, but mostly from my having been making pancakes from scratch since the 3rd grade.
In the time since, I have done a lot of experiments and variations, and in that spirit I am presenting the below recipes as basic templates with parts that can be modified and switched out. I highly recommend trying stuff out. Even if it’s terrible, it will be worth it (and will probably still be at least edible).
Brown Sugar Syrup:

I have included this recipe first because it is by far the easiest, and also because I am horrified and saddened that more people don’t know about it, and are thus deprived of its simple, cost effective deliciousness.

This variation on simple syrup costs less than two dollars, requires only slightly more cooking skill than it takes to boil water, and (arguably) tastes as good as, if not better than, real maple syrup.
In a saucepan combine:
2 cups dark brown sugar.
1 cup water.
Bring the mixture to a boil, while stirring continuously.
Cook until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
That’s it.
The entire process, from start to finish, takes about 3 minutes.
Feel free to scale up or down as desired – the important thing is the ratio: roughly 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. This recipe yields just a little more than the average bottle of maple syrup.
The simplicity of this recipe makes it very amenable to variation and experimentation. A few extra things one might add include:
1 to 3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (my personal favorite).
Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cardamon, or other spices that go well with sweet foods.
Vanilla extract.
Whiskey, rum, or brandy (the alcohol will boil off – if you want it to).
NOTE: Be sure to keep a constant eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t boil over. Believe me, it will try. It has a nasty habit of going from a flat calm to a roiling boil in about 10 seconds, once it hits the right temperature. If and when it tries to escape the pot, simply lift it off the heat source until it settles down. At this point it’s probably done, anyway.
Pancakes from Scratch (plus Variants).
We all yearn for something more out of life. Those of us who make pancakes are no different.
In a large bowl, combine:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
a pinch of salt
spices (as much as you want): I recommend some combination of allspice, cloves, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and nutmeg (preferably freshly grated). My personal go-to pairing is allspice and freshly grated nutmeg.
In another bowl, mix:
1 cup milk, buttermilk, or slightly thinned yogurt.
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons melted butter (note: this will not mix in to the milk, but will float to the surface and sort of coagulate. I think it’s supposed to do that?)
optional: 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract (or as much as you can afford to use) or roughly 1/8th of a teaspoon almond extract (almond extract is the diva of flavorings: it’s great but it’s seriously overbearing and will try to out-stage any other flavors if you let it. Use sparingly)
In yet another bowl:
2 egg whites (from the same eggs as the yolks above – let’s not be wasteful here).
Combine the wet mix and the dry mix, stir just until mixed (it should be a little bit lumpy).
NOTE: the next direction isn’t, strictly speaking, essential, but in my opinion greatly improves the finished product. It serves as a sort of “direct injection” of fluffiness; it’s a bit of a hassle, and you can skip it if you’d like, but the pancakes will be considerably less light and fluffy as a result.
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream). Use an electric mixer, eggbeater, or (if you are truly the athletic sort) a whisk. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. The trick here is to try to thoroughly mix it in while still preserving the fluffiness. This fluffiness will, if done right, transfer to the finished product.
From here on in, it’s pretty much exactly the same as with the mix. Get a pan (or two, if you’re in a hurry), bring it up to medium heat with a bit of oil, cook until bubbles form, flip, cook the other side, repeat until you are out of batter.
To serve more people (or larger appetites. I’m in not judging) feel free to double the recipe.
Chunky Monkey:
Created impromptu for a group of friends a few weeks ago (as of printing), and they apparently really liked it. They would probably give me crap if I didn’t include it here.
After combining wet and dry ingredients (but before the egg whites), add:
2 mashed bananas (preferably older ones)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips,
1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
Half Oat:
A recipe I came up with in 4th grade, and a family (and personal) favorite.
Replace the all-purpose flour with:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour,
1/2 cup oat flour.
Replace half of the melted butter with:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil.
Sub-Variant: Eddy’s Everyday:
Keep half of the all-purpose flour but use half oat flour.
Keep it all butter (even add some more if you are feeling indulgent)
I seriously considered just writing the article this way.
Sure. Why not?
1/2 – 2/3 cup blueberries (or raspberries, cherries, or any small, mixable fruit)
So that’s about all I can fit in one article (there may be more to follow). Making things from scratch is more difficult than the mix, but ultimately more versatile and more rewarding. I highly encourage experimentation and taking risks. Some batches will be terrible, but that’s all part of the learning process. Happy frying.