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A good day for pancakes

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Among the things to eat when you are looking for some comfort food is whole-grain pancakes. I have found that the pancake mixes from Arrowhead Mills or Bob's Red Mill, found at Tucson's health-food store like Sprouts and Whole Foods, are exceptionally good.

I don't look for buttermilk-type mixes because in my opinion buttermilk coarsens the texture of baked goods. Pancakes are one of the most rudimentary baked goods that we make, but they are very good and, in the form of whole-grain pancakes, very good for you. You can tell what kind of milk is in the mix, if any, from the manufacturer's instructions on the label.

You will want to try your pancakes with fresh fruit, sliced and sugared, instead of just with syrup once in awhile. Frozen wild blueberries can be thawed and then mixed gently with sugar to make a wonderful topping for pancakes, and in my case I would use a stevia sweetening mix and then top them with Tru Whip, which I am finding at Sprouts in Tucson. It is free of most of the ingredients that appear with monotonous regularity in whipped toppings--no sugar, no high-fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated fats. And on top of that, it is really tasty--better than anything I know of except whipped cream. I'm serious; find it in the frozen case next to the eggs, in the same place where they have Mintz's Blintzes.

This recipe, however, is a two-part operation: making the pancake mix, if you chose to do so, and then making up the pancakes themselves. It is well worth it, though, because the ingredients are inexpensive and you can also avoid a trip to the store just when you'd rather get it done.

PERFECT WHOLE-GRAIN PANCAKES

Ingredients:

4 cups organic all-purpose flour
2 cups organic white whole-wheat flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons powdered milk

Combine all of the ingredients in an airtight lidded container. Shake to mix thoroughly, and use the mix within 3 months.

WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKES

2 eggs, separated
2 cups warm water
1/2 stick melted butter
2 cups pancake mix, recipe above
1 stick butter, for greasing the pan
2 cups fresh fruit such as blueberries, if desired

Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Combine your fruit with 1 cup of sugar or sweetener; slice larger types of fruit if necessary. Refrigerate it and allow it to stand until the syrup acquires the color of the fruit.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg whites and the water in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.

Combine the water mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk them together until they are thoroughly combined. Pour the dry pancake mix ingredients on top of the liquids. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. There will still be some lumps here and there.

Check to see that the griddle is hot by placing a few drops of water onto to the griddle. The griddle is ready if the water dances across the surface.

Lightly butter the griddle. Wipe off any excess butter with a paper towel. No butter should be visible.

Ladle the pancake batter onto the griddle to about 4 inches each. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the lower side is golden, flip the pancakes carefully. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until each pancake is set.

Serve immediately or remove to a towel-lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Hold the pancakes in the warm oven, covered, on a baking sheet, for 20 to 30 minutes while you finish up all the pancakes.

It is better to make up all the pancakes than try to deal with leftover batter. You can even do this whole thing sometime when there is no immediate need for pancakes, and then freeze all of them for future use.

Another good way to see how your pancakes are doing on the griddle is to watch the bubbles. When the tops of the pancakes dry out and the bubbles do not fill in with liquid batter, turn the pancakes over.

This is a baking situation in which the trusty cast-iron skillet or griddle works better than any other tool except uncoated stainless steel. You can heat that baby up without worrying about how it is going to take the high temperature, and when you see the drops of water start skittering over the surface, it's pancake time!

The flours that I would use for this recipe are the Arrowhead Mills white whole-wheat flour (organic) and Arizona Rose all-purpose flour which is sold at Native Seeds in Tucson, north on Campbell. You will find many interesting things to buy and cook there.

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