My six year old loves the show How It’s Made on the Science Channel. It’s this show where they play elevator type music while a narrator talks over images of factory workers and machinery making all sort of stuff. It’s actually a pretty interesting, and mesmerizing show. What does this have to do with eating less processed food, or pancakes?
I’ve seen several of these shows that feature various food products. One that was on recently was for Aunt Jemima frozen pancakes. After watching as the batter was made in a humongous vat with a variety of processed ingredients (like partially hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fat and GMO all in one), it was totally fascinating watching as a machine dropped perfect little dollops of pancake batter onto a conveyor belt/griddle. Plopped out in rows of 8 pancakes at break neck speed, the little circles cook for a couple of minutes and are then flipped by this totally cool multi head spatula thingy that perfectly flips all of them at the same time. The pancakes make their way along the conveyor into a blast freezer and are then packaged up and sent on their way to our freezers – at 40,000 pancakes an hour. While this was totally fascinating to watch, it didn’t really make me hungry for pancakes and served to remind me of how something so seemingly benign could be so completely unnatural and processed.
Even before our new less processed life, I very rarely bought the frozen pancakes (frozen waffles are a completely different story). But I did use the ready-made pancake mix. You know… the just add water stuff. I admit, the Aldi brand pancake mix makes some very yummy pancakes. But of course just like the factory made pancakes, the mix is full of artificial and processed ingredients. So I decided to make from scratch pancakes. My first try was made with 100% whole wheat, which was a hit with the youngest 2 boys, but the oldest didn’t like them at all. So I’ve compromised and am now using half whole wheat, half white flour.
Here is the recipe I’ve used that has been a hit. I make a big batch and then freeze the extras. If you do freeze them, it works best to freeze them laid out on a cookie sheet for an hour or so before putting them into bags so they don’t stick together. To heat them up, you can either microwave them for about 30 seconds a pancake or put them in the toaster. If you do use the toaster, there will be a crunchy crust on the outside.
Pancakes with Whole Wheat
1 cup white whole wheat flour (if your family is cool with all whole wheat, feel free to use 2 cups whole wheat flour and omit unbleached all-purpose flour)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup buttermilk (I use 2 1/8 cup 2% milk mixed with 1/8 cup white vinegar)
3 TB vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients (fluff with a fork to add some air). In separate bowl mix wet ingredients, then add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined (small lumps are okay). Drop by spoonful (about 1/8 cup per pancake) onto hot (375 degrees) griddle or frying pan (you can tell it’s hot enough when you drop a couple drops of water on the heated surface and it sizzles). Once you see little bubbles popping on the pancakes, flip them and cook until browned. Don’t flip them more than once as it will make them tough.
Personally, I love to use my electric griddle for pancakes. It’s a nice flat surface and keeps a nice even 375 degree. Plus the one I have has removable cooking surfaces so it’s easy to clean.