Saturdays Are For Pancakes

Flapjacks You'll Flip Over

by Holly Hopkins // January - February - March 2019

I love pancakes. Always have, always will. My love of pancakes is firmly rooted in family tradition. They are my go-to when going out for breakfast – and my first choice when I have a free weekend morning at home. Wouldn’t your family love a Saturday morning around the table, drizzling syrup on pancakes that you lovingly cooked up for them? I know it isn’t typically a “healthy” food, but I have a recipe that I crafted to make the “perfect” pancake, loaded with whole grain goodness, a hint of fruit for sweetness, and some nuts for a little texture. So, I consider them on the healthy spectrum – good enough, anyway! I am sharing this recipe with you for an easy, Saturday morning staple that will make your family think you are a true pancake genius.

My fruit and nut pancakes are great for a chilly winter weekend. They come together quickly, cook up easily, and you can stash left-overs in the freezer for easy breakfasts during the week. Sometimes, when I am feeling a bit nostalgic, I take out my worn copy of the family buttermilk pancake recipe in my grandfather’s handwriting and whip up a batch of these heart-warming delights. No matter which version I go with, pancakes are definitely a family thing for me and I love that something so simple can be so nostalgic.

My tie to pancakes as a food of love and comfort began when I was a small child. My mom, uncles, and cousins would all gather at my great-grandma’s on Saturday mornings for pancakes and coffee. It was an informal family gathering, loaded with laughs, steaming coffee, and great breakfast. Today, I look back on it as a very precious memory. However, as a child, getting up at 7:00 on a Saturday morning was not my idea of a good time, and I know I threw a fit (or three) when Mom would try to get me up. There were plenty of mornings that I begged to sleep in… but more often than not, I got up and headed out with her for a morning spent with family.

Great-Grandma’s pancakes were simple, but sublime, made with fresh buttermilk and eggs from her son’s farm next door, and cooked in the cast-iron skillet coated with a dash of bacon fat. (I believe her mason jar of bacon fat held all the memories of meals past and enhanced the flavor of everything that came out of her kitchen.) Nothing tasted more like love than those pancakes.

Most of the time, she got to sit at the table chatting while one of the other adults would fry the flapjacks. The steaming golden cakes would hit the table two or three at a time, so we could enjoy them while they were still hot. The varieties of toppings varied, depending on what was on hand. Surprisingly, maple syrup was not usually among them. I come from a line of midwestern German farmers and our toppings of choice were sorghum and brown sugar. I was a simple tastes kid though – just give me some of Great-Grandma’s home-churned butter. I loved the actual taste of the pancake; the simple goodness of the few ingredients and the silkiness of the butter melting over the top. Little did I realize at the time, but the bacon fat was a huge factor in the taste and texture of those pancakes.

The years passed, kids grew up, lives moved on, and the tradition slowly stopped; but the stories did not. Those memories stay with me and make me smile more often than I realize. I still remember my uncle’s jokes and tales of my cousin’s antics, and pancakes are remain my favorite breakfast. I have a cast-iron skillet that I have been cooking in and seasoning for over 20 years. And, I remember the magic of bacon grease! What I wouldn’t give to have one more Saturday morning of pancakes at Great-Grandma’s table, overlooking the farm fields full of early morning dew and sipping on a hot cup of coffee. I promise I wouldn’t fuss about getting up early on a Saturday … I would jump right out of bed, and when I got to her house, I’d give her the biggest hug I could muster, pour the coffee, grab the recipe and her cast-iron skillet, and let the magic begin.

Fruit and Nut Pancakes

Makes approximately 25-30 pancakes, depending on the size

– 3 eggs
– 2½ cups buttermilk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– ¾ cup all-purpose flour
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 2½ teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 1 cup whole wheat flour
– ¼ cup ground flax seed
– ¼ cup quick oats
– ½ cup dried cranberries
– ½ cup finely diced or shredded apple
– ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix dry ingredients plus apples in a small bowl and stir to combine. Crack eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Add buttermilk and vanilla and whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly, but do not overmix. Let the batter sit for a few minutes before beginning to make the pancakes. These can be cooked in a large skillet, on a flat griddle, or in an electric skillet over medium heat. Spoon the batter onto the cooking surface and spread out using the back of the spoon. The chunks of apple, cranberries, and nuts will stand out at first, but the pancake will puff up around them as it cooks. Flip when you can see that the sides look a little dry and a few bubbles appear on the surface. The pancakes are done when the bottom is golden brown and the top is firm to the touch. Serve with butter and maple syrup (mix a little orange marmalade in for a little something different). To keep them warm until all are cooked and ready to serve, heat the oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off and place the pancakes on a sheet pan in the oven. These pancakes freeze well when layered with baking parchment or paper towels in a freezer- safe container. They reheat beautifully in the microwave for a quick breakfast.

Holly Hopkins

Holly has spent many years working with food, starting off at her Grandma’s elbow, making wedding cakes and cookies galore. Since then, she has been a manager and business owner and is thrilled to be combining her passions for high quality food and superior customer service at Chef Mario’s.