Pancakes are very personal thing in the food world. Some people like their pancakes thin, while others prefer small, silver-dollar-size pancakes. I guess it has something to do with the kind of pancakes you grew up with, those your mama used to make.
Every Saturday morning, my mother would treat us to her pancakes, and they were always so big and fluffy I just wanted to fall right into them. To make them even better, she'd make the pancakes in the same skillet she'd used to fry bacon minutes before. She'd pour off 95% of the bacon grease, but what was left gave a little more deliciousness to the pancakes.
For me, the perfect pancake is thick, not flat — and it has to have some flavor on its own. Anything's good when it's drowned in syrup, but that's all you taste with some pancakes. And texture? They must be tender.
I know that's asking a lot from a pancake, but these pancakes melt in your mouth and still have enough sturdiness to be claimed as hearty. The secret is using vinegar in the batter. It may sound like an odd pancake ingredient when you're used to sweet, not sour, but it works. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda in the dry ingredients, creating all kind of little bubbles, which makes for fluffy pancakes.
Jona Lockhart sent me the recipe, saying that it was a favorite of hers as a child. Now, she makes them for her grandchildren.
"It's the one thing they want every morning when they come to visit," she wrote in her email. "I think they'd want them every day if they could, but we save them for a Saturday morning treat." And, she adds, because they are thick, they take a couple extra minutes to cook all the way through.
Fluffy Saturday Morning Pancakes
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
4 tablespoons butter (no substitute), melted, plus extra for adding to finished pancakes
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Warm syrup or honey
Combine the milk and vinegar in a small bowl for 10-12 minutes, and set it aside. Melt butter on stovetop or in microwave, and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a smaller bowl, whisk egg. Combine the milk and melted butter, mixing well, and add to the egg. Stir in vanilla extract.
Pour wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients, and whisk. The dough is very thick; do not add any liquids to it, and do not overmix it. Let it sit for 2-3 minutes before making pancakes in a hot skillet that's been greased with a little bacon grease or butter. Serve pancakes with butter and warm syrup or honey.
Make reservations now for an amazing dinner in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain. Dinner by the River will create an opportunity for people to have an authentic farm experience at Birchland Ocoee Farm, a working grain farm with views of the Ocoee River. The dinner, a benefit for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, will feature foods grown and raised on local farms prepared by area chefs.
The choice of St. Jude as a beneficiary of the dinner was inspired by Olivia Weatherford, a 5-year-old who is battling neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.
The evening begins at 6:30 with appetizers in the pavilion followed by a hayride down to the river where dinner will be served around the farmhouse table. Enjoy dessert gathered around a bonfire. For tickets and more information, log onto www.TheRiverMaze.com.
Email Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.