My family - with the exception of my husband - love pancakes. To his credit, Chris puts up with them without whinging, but when I find a recipe HE likes, then I know it's a winner.
Now, pancakes aside, I was always taught that the best way to cook was to follow a recipe exactly as written the first time, and then monkey with it after that if you like. However, I'm a vegetarian who actually LIKED some of the meat dishes she used to eat (like Chili con carne), and if I want to even try a meat-based recipe, I must vary it some from the beginning, or else not bother. I'm also always looking for ways to improve the nutrient density of a recipe without sacrificing taste, or better yet improve on the taste if I can. So, that means I fiddle with recipes from the get-go pretty commonly.
One of the things I've discovered is that with pancakes, you can pretty much just use the vegetable oil of your choice (though not olive oil, as the flavor is too strong), in place of melted butter. The end result is very slightly healthier, and the taste is pretty much identical. I've also used soy milk instead of regular milk loads of times, but the pancakes don't rise QUITE as well (though still OK). I've also used whole wheat instead of all-purpose flour, and generally that works fine, too - though the cakes are usually a little denser.
Anyway, I stumbled onto a delicious variation of a recipe that I had to share. This time, my changes were caused not by attempts at better health, but by what I happened to have (or not) on hand. I was attempting to make the Four Grain Flapjack recipe in The Joy of Cooking, but I discovered that I didn't have either milk or enough soy milk on hand. What I had was 3 quarts or so (don't ask) of whole milk yogurt.
"Chris, do you think I could use yogurt instead of milk?"
"Yeah, probably. Try it."
"Will it make it sour?"
"I dunno. Try it."
I also, out of habit used 4 tablespoons peanut oil instead of 1/2 stick of melted butter. And, I couldn't substitute whole wheat for the all-purpose flour as I only barely had enough whole wheat to make the recipe as originally written. So all-purpose went in this time. And, I also wanted blueberries in my pancakes. So I added 1.5 cups of them after combining the rest of the ingredients.
And the result was...wow! Delicious, and not sour at all. I had made this recipe once before with my usual substitutions, but it was so much better this time around. The batter was thicker/fluffier than I'm used to - it didn't spread out as much, which means I had to keep turning them to get them to cook all the way through (cooking longer on a lower heat would also work). Anyway, the full recipe looks like this:
Blueberry Yogurt Four-Grain Flapjacks
1 c. whole wheat flour
¾ c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cornmeal
¼ c. rolled oats
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 ¾ c. plain yogurt (whole milk or low-fat)
4 tbs. vegetable oil (not olive)
¼ c. honey
3 large eggs
1.5 c. frozen or fresh blueberries
- Heat skillet or griddle over low heat.
- Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl.
- Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients & whisk until just mixed.
- Stir in blueberries
- Increase heat to medium & brush skillet with oil. Pour batter, about 1 rounded tablespoon at a time.
- Flip when set (watching for bubbles didn't work so well with this recipe. Just keep peeking under, and when brown, turn).
Oh, and yes, Chris thought these pancakes were really good. So, a winner!