Sometime in 2004 I started making traditional Sunday breakfasts, featuring pancakes and bacon; and never stopped, so there’s a tenth anniversary coming up. I’ve learned enough about them now to offer tips both on them, and on what you put on them. Which matters, because pancakes, un-topped, are kind of boring.
Mix it up. As in, try different mixes, both noveau-organic and traditional-home-style. The differences are surprising.
Maple syrup! Normally everyone buys “Canada #1” but health-food stores will have other options; some of the darker shades with numbers that aren’t 1 have deliciously smoky flavors.
Most mixes and recipes have a lot of baking powder aimed at giving you big thick fluffy pancakes. When I make it from scratch I use less, and when I use mixes I up the liquids to force them a little thinner. But if you like fluffy that’s OK.
Honey! In particular, I like a powerful buckwheat honey. I remember my botanist Dad grumbling over the breakfast table that they should never have called that plant a word containing “wheat”; it’s more closely related to rhubarb.
When you’re running low on batter, finish off with a great big honking extra-size pancake (see below), and award it to whichever kid is particularly deserving.
Fresh fruit! Berries are good and for my money fresh blueberries are best. Combine them with a syrup or honey for best effect.
Try putting the fruit in the batter; once again, it’s blueberries for the win.
You can cook ’em on a traditional cast-iron skillet or a newfangled nonstick thingie. My results are about the same either way. Don’t try to cook more than three at a time unless you have a really big surface.
Jam jam jam! I already mentioned pflaumenmus, but any good strong fruit preserve can be a source of happiness. Last year, Heather Flanagan gave us some home-made rhubarb/lavender jam, and it was to die for. Especially on pancakes.
Preheat; you gotta get to know your oven/pan combination. There has to be a pretty vigorous sizzle when you drop the batter, and bubbles need to start appearing almost immediately.
Exotic syrups! Fruit syrups, golden syrup, and so on.
All from-scratch pancake recipes are about the same. For my family of four you need a couple cups of flour, roughly the same volume of fluids comprising mostly milk and some eggs and oil or butter, a teaspoon or three of baking powder (see above), maybe a little sugar to caramelize the surface.
Just fool with the proportions or type a recipe search into the Internet and pick the first that comes back; it’ll come out OK.
Extras · Bacon (details here), grapefruit juice, and really strong coffee. Brewed coffee, no espresso nonsense.