Where do you stand on the hierarchy of French toast-pancakes-waffles? I’ve always put pancakes at the top of the list, followed by waffles, and then French toast, though if it were up to me the latter item would not be a thing that anyone is remotely interested in (if I’m going to eat eggy bread it’s going to be a gloriously crispy fried egg oozing its fat yolk all over a piece of crusty bread that was never at any point stale). It’s just that sweet breakfast has never been a high priority for me. Give me grease and salt (surprise!) any day, but don’t waste my time with an ENTIRE plate of whipped cream-laden waffles and French toast stuffed with another piece of French toast that was incidentally stuffed with a slab of cheesecake.
But these pancakes…I could eat a whole breakfast of just these pancakes. They have a light, crepe-like texture that calls to mind the word ‘flapjack’ for some reason. I’m telling you – even the most skeptical of sweet breakfast cynics could probably come around on these.
I suspect that the magic in this recipe must come from the separate incorporation of the yolks and whites of the eggs. Regardless of how this witchcraft manifests itself, the end result is a crispy-edged, bordering on ethereal, barely sweet pancake that is thin enough to be put into the palm of your hand and rolled up like a delightful little pancake cigar, ready for a dip in its baptismal maple syrup (I ate these alone in my house on a Saturday afternoon, in case that wasn’t screamingly obvious). This is like if a pancake and a crepe got together and produced an offspring with none of their let-downs and only the best qualities of both.
This recipe is made more unusual in that you must make a “Semi-Instant Pancake Mix” to then use in the “Semi-Instant Pancakes”. The recipe says that the mix is enough for roughly 3 batches (so 2 leftover batches if you only make a single batch of pancakes with it). I cannot attest to whether the mix keeps well or does indeed yield another 2 batches as the idea of eating more pancakes right now seems like one of complete lunacy. Also, because it’s from Alton Brown, many of the measurements are given by weight instead of volume. It would probably be easy enough to convert the weight to volume, but slightly less precise. Also kitchen scales can be cheap as chips and make you feel important and knowledgeable AF.
Blueberries are of course completely optional, but their slight tartness does further intensify the not-cloyingly-sweet nature of these pancakes. I made half a batch of plain pancakes (on purpose…definitely not because I was running low on blueberries and despite living directly above a grocery store could STILL not be bothered to run downstairs and re-stock), which were also lovely.
From Alton Brown (Good Eats: The Early Years)
Makes about 10 pancakes or so (remember that these are thinner, and therefore easier to plow through, than regular pancakes…so maybe don’t assume that 1 batch will feed as many as 3 people)
Semi-Instant Pancake Mix:
28 oz all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 oz white sugar
10 oz Semi-Instant Pancake Mix
2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
2 cups buttermilk
2 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled (leave in the saucepan you melted it in)
8 oz blueberries
Extra butter for cooking and serving (at least a ½ stick)
Maple syrup, to serve
First make the pancake mix by sifting all of the ingredients together and mixing to combine. Set aside 10 oz of the mix in a large mixing bowl and keep the rest in an airtight container for later use. Whisk the egg whites and buttermilk together in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg yolks into the saucepan with the melted butter. Pour the buttery yolks into the buttermilk-whites mixture. Dump this into the large bowl containing the pancake mix. Whisk together BUT ONLY UNTIL IT JUST COMBINES. You will think it’s not incorporated enough and tell yourself to whisk more, but you will be wrong. Alton says he only does 10 stirs. I convinced myself that 12 was okay and it was.
Heat a skillet over medium heat (or a flat-top to 350 degrees) and let it get nice and hot. Turn the oven to a low temperature (about 200 degrees is good). Add a dab of butter to the skillet once hot and allow to melt, but not burn. Ladle about ¼ cup of batter into the centre of the pan (Alton recommends a 1 oz scoop, but I drew the line at this level of precision). I like to have a spoon handy to gently swirl the batter into a circle (I think this also thins the pancake out a bit and contributes to that crepe-y texture that was so delightful). Scatter berries over the pancake if using. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until sturdy bubbles appear along the edge of the pancake. Flip and cook until golden brown on both sides. Keep pancakes warm in the oven while you cook the rest.
Serve hot with butter and syrup, as well as extra blueberries if desired.
To freeze: place pancakes on a lined baking sheet and pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove the pancakes from the sheet, stack, and transfer to a large freezer bag. Expel as much air from the bag as possible and return to freezer. I cannot give you a “best before” date as they didn’t last more than 2 weeks in this house. To eat, just plop a frozen pancake into the microwave (wrap in paper towel first) or the toaster oven and heat until warm and pliable. Extra points if you spread butter and jam on it, roll it up, and leave no evidence behind.