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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mary's Whole Wheat Pancakes and How I Learned to Love Maple Syrup


Pancakes would have to be on my list of favorite foods.  It's right up there with chocolate and ice cream.  Ever since I was a kid, I've loved pancakes.  I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons in my PJs while my dad made batch of pancakes on the griddle.  It was heaven.  Now I make my own pancakes (still in my PJs) and it's still heaven.  Especially since I've developed my own rockin' recipe for whole wheat pancakes!

When I was a kid, I would drown my pancakes in syrup.  Not that weird-tasting maple stuff that comes from a tree!  Yuck!  No way!  The REAL stuff!  Aunt Jemima, Mrs. Butterworth, or Hungry Jack.  Now and again, my mom would try to give me one of the cheaper store brands, but I couldn't be swayed from my favorites.  Sure, there's all sorts of preservatives; sure, it contains the dreaded high fructose corn syrup; sure, it's made in a food processing plant; but I didn't care.  I liked it.  I swore I would never eat and certainly never like that maple stuff. 

But then I grew up and, living out in the world on my own, I moved into a house with six other girls in West Philadelphia.  We tried to keep things pretty organized over at 332 (our address, and also the slang term we used for the house). Money towards bills and groceries were due on the first of the month in little envelopes pinned to bulletin board in the kitchen.  We each had a weekly chore, and to keep things sane, we didn't rotate chores all the time.  Your chore was your chore. Every week.  My chore was vacuuming.  I was okay with that.  I would rather vacuum than do the grocery shopping every week.  I didn't envy the grocery shopping chore (or the wash-the-kitchen floor chore!).  The girl saddled with grocery shopping had to make a trip to the supermarket every week in a vain attempt to please six other girls' appetites and manage to feed them all on a tight budget.  (She also had to give up her parking spot in a crowded West Philly neighborhood--and I can tell you, parking spots are urban gold.)  She bought store brands whenever possible.  She used coupons and shopped the sales.  You could request something you really wanted, and if it was within the budget, she'd try to get it.  Otherwise, you eat what she bought, and that was the end of it.  She was rather health-conscious and always bought loads of fruits and veggies each week.  And because we were all girls, there was ALWAYS a few tubs of Edys Ice Cream in the fridge, and a giant bag of chocolate chips in the pantry.  

Because I no longer did my own grocery shopping, I started eating healthier.  I began with baby steps.  I would cook up a little broccoli, chop it up and toss it in my bowl of (store brand) mac and cheese.  I tried oatmeal for the first time.  One of my housemates even tried to teach me how to make a veggie omlet.  (I still can't fold an omlet.)  And for those times when all I wanted for dinner was ice cream, the freezer was always well-stocked.  The one thing I thought I'd never get used to was the syrup she bought.  Instead of my favorite chemical/preservative laden syrup, she bought the giant container of all-natural maple syrup.   

At first, I ate it begrudgingly.  That maple taste was over-powering.  I didn't like it.  After a while, I got used to it.  I didn't think it was the cat's pajamas or anything, but I ate it.  Pancakes remained one of my favorite foods, and the maple syrup didn't really get in the way of my enjoyment of them.

After one year, I had become a convert.  By that time, I had moved to a studio apartment and was able to buy syrup of my own choosing.  But I had gotten so used to real maple syrup that my old favorites, Aunt Jemina, Mrs. B., and Hungry Jack, were (to my extreme surprise) tasteless!   That flavored corn syrup I used to love had become an overly-processed chemical goo that didn't even taste like food!  I needed my maple syrup to enjoy my pancakes!  I craved that sweet natural flavor!  No processing.  No chemicals.  Just nature's own sweet sap from the beloved sugar maple!

Today, I am still an ardent maple syrup lover! I love it's natural goodness!  I love that unique North American flavor it imparts to my pancakes, and I won't eat any other syrup.    

A few years ago, I decided I need a healthier pancake and after trying some pancake mixes from the health food store, I decided the best way to go was to develop my own recipe.  After looking online at bunches of recipes, I noticed they all have sugar in them.  Since maple syrup is all the sugar I need on my pancakes, I took bits and pieces from the recipes I found and made my own.  I discovered that whole wheat flour, sprouted what flour, buttermilk, and vanilla can combine to make delicious pancake heaven!


In a perfect world, we all have sprouted wheat flour and buttermilk on hand, but since those items are not necessarily in every kitchen, the good news is the recipe tastes good no matter what substitutions you use.  But I would have to say that the buttermilk imparts a magical goodness to the pancakes that I want everyone to experience.  Also, the vanilla is so important that whenever my dad makes this recipe, he doubles the vanilla!  And the sprouted wheat flour gives the pancakes a lovely texture and a deeper flavor.  Try this recipe as written and you won't go back to your "just add water" preservative patties you used to eat.  

Also, try going with real maple syrup.  It may take a while to love it, but believe me you will thank me a year from now!!!


Mary's Whole Wheat Pancakes

Dry ingredients: 
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup sprouted wheat flour (Any other kind of whole wheat flour can be substituted—I’ve used spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, and another half cup of whole wheat flour.  It all tastes good!) 
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:
1 egg
½ cup milk*
½ cup buttermilk*
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat griddle to 400˚F.

Whisk together dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Grease or butter hot griddle. Scoop using a 3 tablespoon cookie scoop or ¼ measuring cup onto hot griddle, cooking a few minutes on each side.

*If you don’t have buttermilk, instead of 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of buttermilk, you can do one of the following: 1.) Use 1 cup of milk.  2.) Use one cup of a buttermilk substitute: Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and let sit for 5 minutes, then use as needed.  I do this when I don't have buttermilk and the pancakes are fantastic!

Optional add-ins: Add a cup of blueberries, chopped strawberries, chopped apple or anything else you can think of to add some flavor.  When adding fruit, cook for a minute longer to make sure fruit gets fully cooked and the pancake won't be too soggy.

For Waffles: Use 2 tablespoons of oil instead of one.




Blueberry pancakes

Strawberry pancakes

1 comment:

  1. Since you're Polish, you might try making buckwheat pancakes. They have a little bit of a "nutty" taste but otherwise are very similar to wheat pancakes.

    You can tell yourself they're your breakfast blini :D



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