Pancakes

Pancakes are thin, round cakes of batter poured onto a griddle and cooked on both sides, typically served by twos, threes, or more for breakfast.

Pancake Nation

Pancakes go back millennia. Every culture has its own version. In our world, travelers appreciate them as a significant breakfast. Are there regional styles of pancake? Only a few varieties boast unique local or ethnic character. These include the blue corn pancakes of New Mexico, the lacy ployes of northern Maine, and the palacinke of the heartland’s Eastern European tables. The universal appeal of pancakes takes them beyond regionality.

Pancake Anatomy

Nearly all pancake batters contain eggs, milk (and/or buttermilk), baking powder, and a starch such as wheat flour, cornmeal, or buckwheat. Cooks fry them in butter on a griddle or in a pan and flip them so both sides develop a slightly crisp surface. They are served with syrup, usually maple or maple-flavored.

Pancake batter might also include pieces of fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, or bits of bacon. Southern cooks sometimes add sweet potatoes to give the batter an earthy flavor and an orange hue. Wrap a cooked pancake around a sausage link and the package becomes a pig in a blanket.

Size and thickness vary dramatically. Little “silver dollar” cakes arrive by the dozen. Two or three people can feast on a single pizza-wide, inch-thick pancake at Charlie Parker’s Diner in Springfield, Illinois. (Eat four and they’re free.)

Are Crepes Pancakes?

They just might be pancakes, if you don’t mind leaving out the leavener and creating really thin ones. A common variation, especially in the Midwest, is what cafes call Swedish pancakes. Customarily, these skinny ‘cakes come with lingonberries or lingonberry jam instead of the sugary syrup that typically accompanies the dish.

Oven-Baked

Some restaurants bake pancakes. In this case, the leavening power of eggs makes them rise up in the manner of a souffle or popover. Bette’s Oceanview Diner of Berkeley, California, calls them souffle pancakes. The Original Pancake House chain serves them as “Dutch Babies.”

A Savory Alternative

Potato pancakes, which one sees more as a side dish at supper than a main course at breakfast, are savory. Recipes usually call for onions woven in among shredded potatoes, and condiments include sour cream and/or apple sauce. Known in Jewish culture as latkes, two such potato pancakes take the place of rye bread slices to make a corned beef sandwich at Manny’s in Chicago.

Restaurants With This Dish

Hungry Bear Cafe

BEAVER, WA

Bisbee Breakfast Club

BISBEE, AZ

Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

CHARLOTTE, NC

Pie ‘N Burger

PASADENA, CA

Joe’s Diner

LEE, MA

Coffee Cup Café

SULLY, IA

Pancakes Recipes

Cheddar Corn Pancakes

Discuss

What do you think of Pancakes?

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