Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Little Bit of Comfort

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There are many foods that I just cannot resist, nor ever get sick of eating. Pancakes have to be on my top five list of such foods. As a kid, pancakes were reserved as a weekend treat, so I would eagerly await for Sunday to roll around. My dad would get up and make us all pancakes, while I would stand by his side, eager to offer a helping hand when in reality, I probably helped create a bigger mess than anything else. But over the years, as I grew older, I got to help out more and more: measuring out the flour and milk, stirring the egg whites into the batter, and finally, cooking them myself. Before I knew it, I had completely taken over the task of making pancakes from my dad, and even he has admitted that I now make pancakes better than he ever did.

That being said, I never grew up eating pancakes out of a box. Pancakes at my house were always made from scratch from a recipe that was passed down to my parents from my mother's former landlady during her college days. The recipe below has been tweaked by me over the years, as I've continually made changes to the original recipe in order to improve the end result. The original recipe didn't consist of any leavening agents at all, depending only on the egg whites to give it lift. This pancake recipe is definitely not as fluffy or flavourful as the buttermilk pancake, which I have come to adore after learning about DIY buttermilk last year, and can be quite bland on its own, but its also a great base to work with and makes it so versatile. You can experiment with different flavours, spices, flours and additives. I often like to add mashed bananas, or like the ones I made today, cinnamon and finely diced apples. The combinations of flavours are really endless, so have fun with it!

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Pancakes are definitely one of my favourite comfort foods. I could have them any time of the day: for breakfast or brunch, for dinner (to the bewilderment of my mother), and even as a midnight snack. What is more comforting than serving these pancakes with some Maple-Glazed Bacon on the side? And don't forget to set some real maple syrup on the table for your guests! Pancakes just aren't pancakes without a good drizzle of the real thing!

Bonita's Pancakes
Serves 4 to 6

3 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks have formed. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with the oil and vanilla extract. Slowly add in the milk with the mixer still going at low speed. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just combined. Do not overmix! It's alright if there are still lumps of flour throughout; this will actually give you a fluffier pancake.

Gently fold in the egg whites into the batter until just incorporated. Do not overmix.

Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Drop a ladle of the batter onto the hot pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Gently flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Move to a plate and keep warm in the oven at a low temperature.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.


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