I think I have been flapping jacks in some form or another for close to 40 years. That is a long time to be rolling in dough and yet still be broke. Through all those years however, pancakes, not unlike the ‘ether’ and wonders of deep space, continue to perplex me on a great number of levels. Oh I know what you are thinking, this boy has clearly gotten into the fermented artificial vanilla and seeing rainbows where pancakes should be. Hey I understand your skepticism, after all, beyond about a quarter of an inch, how ‘deep’ can a fried dollop of flour and milk really be?
Well consider the elitism and ‘special class’ privilege that pancakes receive while cooking. Everybody says ‘let’s MAKE pancakes’, they don’t say ‘let’s FRY pancakes, because frying anything these days is considered unhealthful. Pancakes are mostly just flour, water and a little egg to keep everything stuck together right? I thought all of us already eat that stuff everyday and it is called ‘BREAD’? I don’t see a $5 short stack of 3 pieces of white bread, featured on every breakfast diner menu in America do you?
I have tried both Bisquick and Jiffy brand boxed mixes to make great pancakes at home and overall I guess I like Bisquick better, but the pancakes are NEVER great. I always laugh at myself for buying basically a box of flour with 3 or 4 other trace ingredients for TEN TIMES the cost of bulk flour. To make the best possible pancake I often make them from scratch with a tad more egg for loft, real vanilla extract for flavor, and a teaspoon of oil for consistency. It is important to NEVER over-mix the batter. In an effort to get every last lump out, many folks beat their pancake batter mercilessly like their children. This is a crime and you will pay for such violence with a batch of flat, lifeless, and damp crepes, that only a taste bud-challenged Frenchman could love. On the plus side however, you will raise wonderfully ISO 9001 compliant, quality children that all of society will appreciate.
I will never completely understand why pancakes behave so differently than other pan-fried foods. No matter how long I heat the pan, or how much lube I use to season the griddle, the very 1st pancake of the batch, will brown the edges dark and fry the rest of the cake to an uneven splotchy tan. Thereafter the pancakes will grill up to a beautiful uniform golden brown on the first side only, which is customarily known as the ‘TOP’. The second side (or pancake bottom) will stay a pale whitish color when grilled and is very religious since it is rather ‘holey’. Isn’t the pancake batter the same ‘stuff’ mixed throughout - so HOW can the cakes have a top and bottom?
In a perfect ‘make sense’, politically-correct world, if the source ‘batter’ is all the same, shouldn’t we demand that all finished pancakes too, be ubiquitous with the same ingredients, color, and texture on ALL sides? This really draws in the whole ‘nature vs. nurture’ argument, because pancakes, just like people, may be all made up of the same goo, but some clearly have better TASTE than others. Oh what do I know – I’m just an equal opportunity ‘eater’ with years of practical experience. Though for you that DO wish to discriminate, I have developed an easy way to remember which is the top, and bottom of a pancake. Just like people, pancakes have the ‘holes’ in their bottoms!