How are your pancaking skills? Judging by the myriad pancake houses (and restaurants that serve pancakes) in America, pancakes are right up there in popularity with ice cream and Chevy trucks. Well, maybe more popular than Chevy trucks.
But not everyone likes pancakes, and not everyone can make them. I confess, I am a former pancake failure.
Pancakes are deceptively easy to make. You take some ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, butter) or a pancake mix and some water, mix them up, divide the batter into quarter-cup increments that you then pour onto a hot griddle. That’s a recipe for disaster.
I started making pancakes when I was a Brownie and, as a child, always made them “from scratch,” a description that somehow suggests something that should make you queasy. As I recall, they were pretty good, but then again I was the kind of kid who would eat candy that had fallen to the ground. By the time I was 18 I had switched to Aunt Jemima pancake mix.
My husband, Chip, likes pancakes. Since I like him, I try to indulge him when I can. “When I can” means “when I don’t have to get up before 10:00 a.m.” So for the first six years of our marriage, I would occasionally drag out the griddle or fry pan and attempt to make him happy. What I actually made was horrible pancakes. Not so horrible in the realm of taste, just really ugly pancakes. And thin. Okay, maybe anorexic. I’d try different fry pans and different recipes or mixes, and always make horrible-looking pancakes. Scary looking pancakes. They were edible, but…
About three years ago, I learned the secret to perfect pancakes. The secret is so simple, yet it works with expensive pancake mixes, scratch pancakes, and cheap pancake mixes (my favorite is WalMart’s Great Value Extra Fluffy pancakes). It involves two ingredients. Are you ready? Two ingredients for perfect pancakes: time and a Presto electric griddle (the $20 model is spectacular). I haven’t tried this with other electric griddles, though I expect you would get similar results. I have never ever ever gotten pretty pancakes out of a frying pan or even that grill pan that uses two burners on the stove. Forget them.
Once you have your Presto (or whatever) griddle, you will want to set the temperature at 350 degrees. You know, the same universal 350 degrees that we perfect cooks use for all our baking. You do not want to grease, butter, or spray the grill.
And, now, for the secret ingredient: time. Yes, time. A whole ten minutes. After you mix your pancake batter, set it aside for 10-15 minutes. Just let it sit. This allows the ingredients to incorporate and you get a better batter. Seriously!