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A Pancake Caper

April 7, 2009

There was a time that Katie and I ate pancakes every morning.  From-scratch, buttermilk pancakes, every morning, for maybe two or three years straight. 

Before you roll your eyes, like so many of my neighbors with kids, let me just say that it is just about as easy as pouring cereal and milk in a bowl, but a whole lot more satisfying*.

Of course, there are many mixes on the grocery store shelves, ranging from the old standby (Bisquick) to healthier choices (Bob’s Red Mill).  Being the kitchen witch, however, I make the pancakes using a self-assembled mix.  Then I shuffle the deck a little by adding ground golden flax seed meal (because who can get enough flax seed?) and pureed sweet potato.

Did she just say “sweet potato?”

Yes, it’s true.  Before Jessica Seinfeld found her way into our kitchens, I was adding sweet potatoes to pancakes.  And, as Jessica will attest, it is a great way to sneak vegetables into the whole family’s diet.  Beyond that, it just makes great pancakes. 

Ed. note: if you take a look at the ready-to-bake items I offer at kitchenwitchcookie.com, you’ll see my inspiration for bringing sweet potatoes to pancakes: sweet potato biscuits, which my oldest DEVOURS.

First, I scrub and bake a bag (2-3 pounds, I guess) of sweet potatoes, skins on, at about 375 degrees, until a fork easily pierces through the flesh.  I also learned the hard way to put them on a baking sheet, not directly on the oven rack.  Otherwise, as they bake, they cover the bottom of the oven in a sticky-sweet liquid that eventually burns, causing the smoke alarm to go batty.  Never a good sign when you’re baking.

Once, they are cooked, I let them cool a little, then peel and puree them.  You can mash them with a potato masher, or put them through a food mill/ricer, as I do.  Then, I scoop the pureed potato with my large scoop and plop onto a baking sheet lined with a Silpat, for easy freezing and removal.  They end up looking like this:

about four ounces

about four ounces

Then, I microwave for about thirty seconds, until I can mash it up:

also makes great baby food

also makes great baby food

Here are the rest of the assembled ingredients.  The ready-to-use mix is in the measuring cup.

mis en place

mis en place

I add 1/4 cup of ground flax seed to one cup of dry mix:

ground flax seed gives a mildly nutty flavor, with no odd texture

ground flax seed gives a mildly nutty flavor, with no odd texture

Here are the wet ingredients when blended (notice the lovely orange hue):

I use canola oil, but you can also use melted butter

I use canola oil, but you can also use melted butter

Then add wet to dry:

make sure your griddle is hot before you take this step

make sure your griddle is hot before you take this step

I don’t over mix the wet and dry, so it looks rather lumpy when I’m ready to ladle onto the hot griddle:

final-mix

If the mixture seems overly dry, I just add more buttermilk, or regular milk.  (There have also been instances when I was out of buttermilk completely, and you know what works well?  Creamy yogurt!  In our case strawberry, with a little extra milk to smooth it out.  I don’t like chunks of fruit in my yogurt, but I suppose that kind would work as well.)

I use the ladle above to make similarly sized pancakes, which I then load with chocolate chips.  Tell me, does that completely offset the health benefits of the flax and sweet potato?

notice my obsessive-compulsive distribution of chocolate chips

notice my obsessive-compulsive distribution of chocolate chips

And, the finished product:

these almost don't need syrup

these almost don't need syrup

As you can tell, I love these pancakes.  Even as my daughters have waxed and waned in their preference for pancakes, I continue to make them, just for me.  When we have company for breakfast, I do offer other add-ins, such as blueberries (dried or fresh), or simply plain pancakes. 

The mix itself is something I’m considering selling on Etsy, but I realize that a lot of people are freaked out by buying buttermilk.  However, I use buttermilk in a lot of things (mostly kitchen witch goodies, but have you ever tried buttermilk in mashed potatoes?  Heavenly!)

*I will admit that this whole process, documented here, looks nothing like “almost as easy as pouring cereal and milk in a bowl.”  But!  It is relatively easy in relationship to the payoff.  I urge you to try it.

Tell me, what do you make for breakfast?

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