A week or so ago, out of the blue, Nina observed that we hadn't had pancakes in a long time. This was true.We've been too tired and too busy to bother. I changed this on Sunday morning when I prepared a batch before everyone got up. Well, almost everyone. Pinta was awake early, as she always is. The only time she ever sleeps past six AM are on the nights when she's been up crying during the early hours of the morning. She doesn't give anyone any rest, including herself.
So after I diapered her, gave her a bottle, and had my tea, I started on the pancakes. I always make them from scratch. It's easy. I use a variation on the recipe in "The Joy Of Cooking," with less sugar than they call for. I also separate and beat the egg whites.
I add fruit to the pancakes, but not just to the batter. Years ago I roomed with the writer Kevin Conley, and he taught me about caramelizing the fruit on one side of the pancake. Conley, who has since moved on to more exciting pursuits (his book about stunt men and women, "The Full Burn," came out earlier this year), showed me how to slice bananas, pears, apples, or other fruit very thinly and layer them on the top of pancake batter as it cooks in the pan. When one side is done, flip it and you'll get a nice brown edge on the fruit as the pancake finishes.
By the way, there's something about pancakes that often gets lost in the time it takes them to get from the stove to the table. Fresh ones have an irresistible, crisp edge. When pancakes are stacked and held before serving, as is the case at a diner, for example, they loose it. It's worth making them in small batches and eating them as quickly as possible (not really a challenge).
On Sunday morning, I prepared the dried ingredients and then waited for the rest of the family to get up. When Nina woke and saw what was happening, she asked to do something that just made me swoon. She came into the kitchen and said, "Can I help make the pancakes?" I gave her the task of mixing the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. She also helped me measure and pour the milk.
Today's New York Times has an article on the benefits of having kids help in the kitchen. It is supposed to make them less picky eaters. I'll have to get Nina to read it; she may have wanted to help make the pancakes, but she's resistant to eating fruit, almost all fruits. If she sees any on the pancake, she's not interested.
We want her to eat more fruits, so we tried a bit of subterfuge. Santa Maria grated some apple and put it in the batter for Nina. It goes against my beliefs to lie to my kids, and I generally don't sneak ingredients into dishes. I figured it would be okay this time, though. So long as Nina didn't ask about the apple, I wouldn't have to say anything. She loved the pancakes and I had one of her apple-filled ones by accident. They were quite good and I might make some for myself next time.
1.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1.75 teaspoons baking powder
Combine those ingredients.
3T butter (or less)
1 plus cups milk
1-2 eggs, whites separated
Melt butter, add egg yolks to milk, mix. Add butter.
Combine dry ingredients with the milk and butter. Mix gently until mostly combined. Do not over mix.
Fold in egg whites.
It's fine to let the batter sit for while at this point.
Heat maple syrup
Slice bananas, apples, or other fruit.
Heat frying pan. Add butter. Pour batter into pan in small puddles. cook until air bubles appear in batter. Add layer of fruit. Flip and finish.