For a while, I have been intrigued by the fascination (including my own) of pancakes. I understand cakes, cookies, pies etc. and maybe even waffles… but why pancakes? They’re simply discs of flour, milk, a tiny bit of sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, and butter; why are they any more beloved than a slightly sweetened piece of bread? After thinking about this wayyyy too deeply for a while, I realized that it isn’t simply the flavor, but the experiences that pancakes create and symbolize that make them so special (to at least my family and I). The memories of my family and I making pancakes on a Saturday, or at least sitting down to a delicious breakfast together are what make the simple food full of complex and happy feelings; there was no work for my parents to worry about, school days felt miles away, and there were endless things that we could do with the day. Pancakes simply introduce the best day of my week with the people that love me the most.
As I have gotten older, and my workload has increased along with the stress of my parent’s joband Saturday family breakfasts have become more and more irregular. I woke up early last Saturday (no idea why, it was probably a siren or noise outside/the sun or something), after going months without touching a pancake, and realized that I wanted to surprise my parents with the best family pancake breakfast of their year. I, being the spontaneity-driven person that I am, decided to spice up the recipe a bit, with some apples and cinnamon.
An hour later, my mom, my dad, and I (brother was away at college 😦 ) sat down to a nice family breakfast and my childhood seemed to come shooting back at me. We spent the entire day together, grocery shopping at Trader Joes, listening to music, having dinner with my great-grandmother. The reasoning behind my love for pancakes has never been clearer.
2 medium apples (any kind), peeled and diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add diced apples, butter and brown sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, or about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
- In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Pour into flour mixture and whisk until well-combined. Batter may be slightly lumpy.
- Heat a nonstick griddle (or large nonstick skillet) to medium-high heat, and wait until the surface is hot enough that a drop of water jumps around the pan when dropped onto it (if the water evaporates immediately, the pan is too hot).
- Add batter onto pan in dollops (approx 1/4-1/3 cup) and cook until the surface of the pancake starts to bubble. Add about 1 tbsp of the sautéed apples to the pancake. Continue to cook until the bottom of the pancake is golden, then flip and cook the second side until golden.
- Serve immediately, with maple syrup and more diced apples.