Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes and the Myth of Brotherly Love

I grew up eating the Krusteaz whole wheat just-add-water pancakes. We used to drown those little cakes in about a cup of Mrs. Butterworth’s (high fructose corn) syrup just to make them somewhat edible. They get soggy if you do it that way, but it’s better than eating them in their original state of blandy dryness. Half the time they were burned, sometimes they were undercooked, and generally they just weren’t very good. (My mother was a lot of things, but gourmet pancake chef was not one of them.)

Brent, on the other hand, grew up eating fluffy and delicious pancakes. His rose colored childhood memory recalls that the pancakes were melt-in-your-mouth fluffy little cakes o’ sweetness that were NEVER undercooked and ALWAYS fluffy. The fluffiness is key. Without fluff, there can be no pancake, or so says Brent.

Now I should take a moment and explain to you that Brent is very honest. As in painfully honest at times. As in he will tell you if your pancakes do not live up to the high pancake expectations that he developed during his childhood without batting an eye. (He will also tell you if your new haircut sucks, your shoes are ugly, etc. It’s not that he’s rude, he won’t ask you what the hell happened to your hair or why in the world you would possibly be wearing those hideous shoes, but if you ask him what he thinks he will answer candidly. I’d like to say that I find his honesty charming, but that’s not always the case. Especially when your haircut sucks or you have ugly shoes. I’ve learned over the years not to ask for his opinion about things unless I can handle the truth.)

I couldn’t handle the truth about the pancakes. Even when I got the “secret family recipe” from his mom and followed the recipe with EXTREME PRECISION, he claimed they just weren’t the same. I suggested that perhaps the pancakes of his youth and been idealized beyond the point of pancake reality. He disagreed.

And so I soldiered on in my attempt to recreate the Perfect Pancake, partly because I wanted to taste the Perfect Pancake for myself to see if in fact such fluffiness and delectability could be achieved in a pancake, and partly out of stubbornness. If there was a Perfect Pancake out there to be had, it would be mine. MINE, I tell you!

And then I found it. The recipe for the Perfect Pancake. Now I will share it with you, in spite of Blogger's weirdly inconsistent line spacing issues that are slowly driving me CRAZY:

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

2 c flour

2 T sugar

2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

½ t salt

2 c buttermilk (shaken)

2 eggs

¼ c unsalted butter, melted

I won’t insult your intelligence here. Stir it all together without over mixing. If you can, let the batter sit at room temperature for a few minutes before cooking. Serve with fruit or real maple syrup.

(I’d love to give credit for these pancakes to somebody, but I’ve had this recipe on a scrap of paper in the cupboard for the last year or so and I have no idea where it came from. So please don’t sue me if it’s yours.)

I love these pancakes so much that sometimes I hope for a snow day just so we can have pancakes for breakfast. I have been known to drag small children to the grocery store in my pajamas before the light of day if we are out of buttermilk. These pancakes are TO DIE FOR. Even Brent (Mr. Honesty) agrees.

And so I found myself wishing for a snow/ice delay or cancellation this week because I’ve been craving some pancakes and I always feel like pancakes are a way of marking some sort of special occasion such as a birthday or an unexpected day off. (Beth? Are you there? This is your fault for posting something on facebook about pancakes from scratch. And I’m sorry, but your friend who suggested the Batter Blaster is totally high. As if!)

So the weather did not cooperate and in fact I had to actually get myself OUT of BED EVERY DAY this week and get DRESSED and go to WORK and SHAPE MINDS and INFLUENCE the FUTURE of OUR COUNTRY and so forth. Ironically, one of our topics this week in 8th grade was unnecessary capitalization.

Despite the hardship that my employment sometimes inflicts upon my personal life, I was able to bring the joy of Perfect Pancakes to our family breakfast table this week. And they did not disappoint, because they never do. (Even if you sneak a little whole wheat flour in from time to time.)

All I had to do was mix up the dry ingredients the night before and they went together in a snap. And it was all so perfect! There we were, our little family, sitting at the table in our pajamas and enjoying a very special strawberry compote that I’d made to accompany our pancakes.

And then Jack ruined it all.

He wanted the green plate and I had given him the purple plate. Sawyer, blissfully ignorant of this apparently DIRE situation, was devouring his pancake in the messiest way possible from the coveted green plate while Jack began to wail about the injustices and cruelty of the world. This took awhile to straighten out and involved some tears and the threat of a time out. Then I looked at the clock and realized that I’d have to finish the rest of my pancake in the shower.

I’m so over the fighting. These kids squabble over the most trivial things possible. Often the bickering turns from a minor tiff into a monumental (and sometimes violent) battle culminating in a dual time out. It’s a lot of work to be the sheriff in town around here. I’d rather sit around and eat pancakes.

I’ve heard about siblings who actually seem to like each other and even sometimes play together. I can’t even imagine. I’m pretty sure my kids hate each other.

When we found out that Sawyer was a boy, I distinctly remember one of our friends, who has a brother two years his junior, saying how wonderful it was to have two boys, how lucky Jack would be to have a brother so close in age, and how his own brother was one of his best friends. From then on I imagined that my two boys would be happy little playmates, sharing clothes and toys and friends.

Brotherly love. Ha.

I’d settle for just getting along.

Some of you don't believe that they fight. I present to you photo evidence. These are the sewing pictures that you didn't get to see.

I may be a gourmet pancake chef, but I sure as hell don't know what to do with these two...


  1. Thank you for posting this on a Friday! We have buttermilk in the fridge and I will be making these THIS WEEKEND. :)

  2. funny. i love that your boys are fighting!! not for your sake...obviously. i feel your pain there and i am so sorry. but i think it's hilarious from the outsiders point of view and looking at the pictures. and i promise that one day they WILL be best of friends. it may not be until they are grown, but they will. my sister and i had all out hair-pulling battles when we were young...over things like, who got to practice their piano first. silly. and now neither of us even play the piano!!! took until adulthood to see one another's good qualities but we are now best of friends, even though we couldn't be more opposite!
    i giggled out loud to myself when you called me out on the pancake idea! and i am totally going to try your recipe!!! i only got mine off the internet and i specifically chose one that didn't include buttermilk cuz i didn't have any, but i do love a FLUFFY buttermilk pancake, and you, my dear, have made these sound irresistible and a must-try. so thank you, in advance! miss you, sweetie.
    p.s.-landon would LOVE to play with your boys....or i would love for him to.... ;-)

  3. Can't wait to make the pancakes! Thanks for the cocoa oatmeal cookies recipe, I added chocolate chips to mine (my husband is a chocolate freak!) and my husband loves them, affectionately calls them chocolate crack!
    As for the brothers...I would just be happy if they grew up and didn't despise each other. Remember Tom and Matt Erickson, they don't hate each other but they are very different beings. The only thing I think they have in common is love of beer! Which Tom's wife doesn't let him drink. But that a whole different story.
    Thanks again for the recipes.