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Pancakes & Waffles

March 11, 2006

There are a couple of books I use for easy reference when I need to find out about a basic cooking subject in depth. One is the Joy of Cooking and another is The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook. I used both of them for reference in these tips:

1. Waffle irons have different patterns and depths. The deeper “pockets” were originally for Belgian Waffles (which were traditionally a yeast waffle), but work for all kinds.

2. Waffle irons and griddles or pans for pancakes should always be preheated. Heat is of the essence. Without the right heat, pancakes and waffles may stick. If waffle irons or griddles are well seasoned -- i.e., not previously rubbed with an abrasive or left to rust – you may not need additional butter or oil to cook them. I like the color a little butter gives, however. The first one is always a test one. Plan to discard or give to the dog.

3. All waffle batters have to include some fat or they stick, so don’t try to omit it entirely. The Joy of Cooking recommends four tablespoons butter for a reduced fat waffle, eight tablespoons for a classic light and fluffy waffle, and sixteen tablespoons (that’s eight ounces, or two sticks) for a crunchy delicious waffle.

4. To keep waffles warm and crisp so all may be served at one time, spread out on a single layer directly on the oven rack. They will keep for about twenty minutes at 200 degrees.

5. To keep pancakes warm and tender, use a sheet of aluminum foil or a ovenproof plate or pan, layer the pancakes up as they are done, covering loosely with foil, and keep in a 200 degree oven for twenty minutes. For a phenomenal pancake, brush each side with a little butter before layering. (The same thing is true for reheating frozen pancakes – a little butter brushed on the ones reheated in the oven makes them truly special. Obviously this will not be appropriate for a toaster.)

6. The first side (down) of a pancake is always the prettiest. To tell when the pancake should be turned, look for the bubbles coming to the surface of the pan, then turn until the second side is done.

7. Determine how much waffle or pancake batter is appropriate for your needs. One half to three fourths cup batter is the norm for waffle irons, One third cup is the norm for an average pancake. Size of pancakes can vary, of course, from very small to extra grand.

8. If your batter is too thick, add more milk and/or butter. If it is too thin, caarefuly integrate more flour.

9. Batters can be made and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for twenty four hours. They produce a more tender pancake than those that are made from a recently mixed batter.

Basic Pancakes
About 10 six-inch cakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated, light or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole, skim or lowfat milk
3-5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten to mix

Preheat the griddle.

Sift or toss together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, butter and eggs. Whisk the wet ingredients gently into the dry ingredients, At this point you may add 1/2 cup of berries, nuts, bananas, cheese, bacon, etc. This may be kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours, covered tightly. Stir well before using, and thin if necessary to achieve desired consistency.

Test the griddle with a little water to be sure it sizzles. Ladle or pour 1/3 cup batter onto the griddle per pancake, pushing it into rounds if necessary. If they run together, you can cut them when they are done. Cook until the top of the pancake is sprinkled with large bubbles, some of which are bursting, then turn and cook until the other side is lightly browned. Keep warm as directed above, or serve immediately. Continue with the rest of the batter until all is gone.

Buttermilk Waffles

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup melted butter or salad oil
2 eggs, beaten to mix

Preheat waffle baker.

Sift or toss together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. In another bowl, mix buttermilk, melted butter and eggs. Whisk together and beat until smooth.

When waffle baker is sufficiently hot, ladle or pour the batter directly into the center of the lower half until it spreads to one inch from the edges. Cover and bake as directed. Do not lift cover during baking. Steam will escape from the sides of the waffle baker, so take care not to get burned.
When waffle is done, lift cover. Loosen waffle with fork. Keep warm in oven as above or serve immediately. Meanwhile recover the waffle baker to reheat quickly. When ready, pour in next waffle. Thin as needed with more buttermilk.

For Sweet-Milk Waffles

Use 1 tablespoon baking powder
Substitute milk for buttermilk.

Layered, fluffy, feathery, silky, soft, and velvety biscuits all come together in Southern Biscuits, a book of recipes and baking secrets for every biscuit imaginable.
The magical combination of shrimp and grits, whether for pre-dawn breakfast on a shrimp boat or as an entrée in the finest New York restaurant can be deliriously wonderful.
A beautiful book, winner of the James Beard Award for Entertaining, that will help the novice and the experienced alike.
The best of traditional Southern cooking, as well as innovative, new cuisine.
This book will be a keepsake for anyone with Southern roots, and a practical book for those who like to cook! A winner of the 1994 James Beard Award.
Master index to all of Nathalie's cookbooks

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