The one food category I seem to feed more than any other is Saturday Morning Brunch. There’s just something about waking up a little early at the very onset of two days of pure relaxation, heading to the kitchen, and waking up everyone in the house with tantalizing and familiar smells. And I’ve found that breakfast just seems to have the most universal appeal to anyone from anywhere and of any food preference. It brings together picky eaters, the hungover, old folks after church, Norwegians . . . and just minor alterations to the standard fare can accommodate virtually anyone. Even vegans enjoy animal-free bacon and dieters eat egg-white omelets, and those of us who normally shirk breakfast will always take the time to enjoy one on a sunny Saturday morning.
But there is one breakfast delicacy so simple and omnipresent, I’m aghast with myself that I’ve neglected it until now. And that’s pancakes.
In an attempt toward rainbow cake fan service, I envisioned a colourful stack of multi-coloured pancakes sans-food dye, dyed only by the beauty of the fruits therein contained. Unfortunately, berries, with the exception of the blue variety, all seem to impart pancake batter with a dingy grey that is anything but inspiring. However, cheddar cheese makes for bright cheerful pancakes that are not savoury, but instead taste extra-buttery, making for a nice complement to the traditional blueberry. Also, though I’ve mentioned before that buttermilk pancakes are best, my favourite recipe by far is the standard regular old milk-and-all-purpose flour variety.
Anyone reading this has likely made pancakes, and I’ve included a recipe at the bottom for reference’s sake, but I think I’ll let the pictures, largely, speak for themselves. Except I need to tell you a secret, and you’re going to hate me for telling you because it’s such a guilty little secret, but . . . the best way to make your pancakes with crispy edges and fluffy insides is . . . shortening. Yes, a smidge of trans-fat-laden shortening in the pan does the trick admirably.
I’ll interrupt the silence here for just a moment: I’ve read a few places the best way to make blueberry pancakes is to put the blueberries on top of the batter once it’s in the pan to keep the whole batter from turning blue. I have no idea why anybody could look at this and not find it absolutely beautiful.
Moving along . . .
And finally, the shot that made it all worth it. Aren’t these stripes giddily Dr. Seuss-like?
If you don’t want pancakes right now, I just plain don’t understand you (or you just ate, which is possible).
Blueberry & Cheddar Pancakes
adapted from The JOY of Cooking
1.5 c all-purpose flour
4 tbsp sugar
1.75 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.5 c milk (whole, lowfat, skim, it’s your call)
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c shredded sharp cheddar OR 3/4 c frozen blueberries, thawed, pressed, with juice.
Whisk or sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix just until the flour is all moistened, then stir in cheddar or blueberries; let sit for 10-15 minutes if you can spare the time . . . it seems to make the pancakes a little fluffier.
Back to that deep dark secret, shortening, which, to reiterate, makes crispy edges whilst preserving the fluffy insides. You put a smidge, about a knifetip, in the pan between each batch and you won’t regret it. However, butter or cooking spray still does the job, though not as well.
Once the pan is hot from sitting on medium-high heat (7 for fellow gas-stovers out there), drop 1/4 c of batter for each cake. Flip when the bottom is toasty and the bubbles on top aren’t popping quite as much, then remove once the new bottom is toasty.
Serve with a smile on a sunny Saturday morning.