Dinner with Kirsten

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A Pancake Revolution

April 13th, 2008 · 64 Comments

lemon pancakes 1

When I was young, I used to have “sleepovers” at my Grandparents’ house. Even on the weekends, they would be out of bed at 7:00 a.m. (reading the paper, drinking coffee, and doing whatever people do that early in the morning), while I was still snuggled under the covers in the guest bedroom. Then, around 8:30 or 9:00, slowly and subtly, a warm aroma would creep under the door and tickle my nose. Soon my eyes would crack open and I would lay in a sleepy yet euphoric stupor, drinking in the unmistakable smell, the promise of pancakes.

Everyone in my family makes pancakes. Grandma Lois usually made blueberry pancakes from a muffin mix. Grandpa Chuck (on my Mom’s side) has a solid buttermilk pancake recipe and regularly feeds a whole pack of family members. When specially requested, both sets of grandparents would occasionally make my favorite—Swedish pancakes (eggy crepe-like pancake rolled up with lingonberry sauce and served with whipped cream). Kelsey, my youngest sister, loves mix-ins, and can always be counted on to make pancakes filled with coconut, chocolate chips, nuts or granola. Even my Mom, who hardly ever bakes and would never cook for “fun,” makes buttermilk pancakes from scratch whenever she gets the urge. (I was floored when she remarked to me once, “They’re so easy to make and so good that it isn’t worth buying a mix.”)

Pancake plain

And me? Mornings are always better if they begin with a plate of pancakes. I’m a proud owner of an electric griddle and I know how to use it. I’ll eat or make pancakes any day of the week, any time of day. I always made the same tried and true recipes, but one cookbook recently changed my flapjack philosophy.

I came across The Pancake Handbook sitting on my parents’ kitchen counter, a souvenir from their trip to San Francisco. This cookbook, from Bette’s Oceanview Diner in Berkley, suggests different techniques and new ingredients (within the normal simple formula), drastically changing the essence of the traditional pancakes I was used to. I’ve been working my way through this cookbook weekend by weekend. (Poor Geoff has been requesting normal chocolate chip pancakes for months.)

My new favorite pancake technique is beating the egg whites to stiff peaks before folding them into the batter, which creates fluffy pillow-soft pancakes. The concept is taken to the extreme in this recipe for Souffléed Lemon-Poppy Seed Pancakes. Lemon juice and zest makes them tangy, the poppy seeds add delicate crunch and texture, while the beaten egg whites make the small pancakes puffy and souffléed. They’re rich moist and light as air—I call them little bites of heaven.

Pancakes close up

The recipe says to serve these with strawberry or blueberry preserves, but I bought a carton of fresh strawberries, sliced them up, mixed with sugar, squished them up a little with my hands, and let them chill out in the fridge while I made the pancakes. The juice of the strawberries is drawn out by the sugar and creates a sweet saucy strawberry mixture.

Souffléed Lemon-Poppy Seed Pancakes
Adapted from The Pancake Handbook

3 eggs, separated
1 cup whole-milk yogurt
(My whole-milk yogurt was expired, so I substituted 3/4 cup Fat-Free Fage Greek Yogurt and 1/4 cup sour cream)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon juice and zest, since they’re in season a bit longer.)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Pinch of salt

Confectioners’ sugar, fruit preserves or fresh fruit mixture for serving. I used fresh strawberries, but I think blueberries or raspberries would be just as good.

Beat the egg yolks with the yogurt, butter, lemon juice, and zest in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and poppy seeds. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and stir gently until just combined (do not over-mix!). At this point the batter should be slightly lumpy. Find another bowl (or clean the first bowl) to use for the egg whites and salt. Beat them with an electric mixer (or a whisk, but be warned that this requires more time and great arm muscles), until the whites are stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the batter until just combined.

Heat a lightly oiled electric griddle to 360°F. (You can also use a heavy skillet or griddle over medium to medium-high heat.) Use a tablespoon to portion heaping dollops of batter onto the hot griddle. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until there are some bubbles on the surface of the pancakes and the underside is golden brown. Gently turn them over and cook for another 1 to 3 minutes, until the other side is browned. Dust the pancakes with confectioners sugar and pass the fruit with the plate of hot pancakes when they are served.

(To keep pancakes hot while I’m making the whole batch, I stack them in a glass pie dish and keep them in a 200°F oven. Sometimes I cover the dish with foil, but it depends on how long I think I’m going to take.)

Tags: breakfast · fruit

64 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kathy C // Apr 13, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Oh, Kirsten, this sounds wonderful. I am not much of a pancake person - I can take them or leave them - but this one sounds delicious! I am going to make these next weekend. I like things that are full of flavor and light.

    How often do you clean out your fridge? You need to keep on top of those expiration dates!

  • 2 Annie // Apr 13, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    geoff #2 must have the luckiest stomach in the world. =)

  • 3 chriesi // Apr 14, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Oh wow that is fantastic!

  • 4 Kirsten // Apr 14, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Tell me how they turn out, Kathy! It’s funny, I bought the yogurt specifically for this recipe, but it took me a while to actually get around to making these.

    I think Geoff would be happier if I were obsessed with grilling steaks instead. He’s never overly excited about pancakes. :)

  • 5 Kathy C // Apr 14, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    I have to admit I am with Geoff on this one. Although, last night Ed went to the store to get us steakes to grill out. We usually grill out all winter but it was just too brutal this year. My mouth was a watering uncontrollably. Mmmm, I just loved food cooked over an open flame. Anyways, I was getting very exciting over having grilled food and all of the sudden I didn’t want a steak anymore but a big FAT juicy hamburger. I quickly called him on the cell phone seconds before they were ready to wrap up the steaks at the meat counter and told him to get hamburgers. He didn’t even question me. I wonder if that is a sign that we have married to long?!?!?!! The hamburgers were to die for.

  • 6 christina // Apr 14, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    kirsten- i have to share my friend may’s pancake recipe with you. multigrain pancakes with walnuts and dried cranberries. they’re amazing and a little bit of polenta gives them a nice crunch.

    in the meantime i’ll try these lemon poppy pancakes :)

    xo

  • 7 Jessica // Apr 15, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Dear Kirsten,

    Please bring these to the office tomorrow.

    Ktnxbie!

  • 8 ellen // Apr 15, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    this looks amazing. lemon poppyseed is one of my favorite flavor combinations. i can’t wait to try it!

  • 9 Mom // Apr 18, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Kirsten,
    My mouth is watering.
    Love,
    Mom

  • 10 Kelsey Vala // Apr 21, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Did you take that cookbook to New York with you? I’ve been looking for it everywhere! Kyla told me I need to make these pancakes when she gets home.

  • 11 Aunt Kris // Apr 28, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Kirsten–
    I think Dad (Grandpa Chuck) beats the egg whites for his traditional recipe too. Ask him!
    Love your blog–I’m subscribing to your RSS feed.
    Kris

  • 12 Kirsten // Apr 28, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks Kris! :)

    Oh yeah, Grandpa and I talked about it once. He beats the whites , but only when he’s not in a hurry. He also told me that you can substitute buttermilk for yogurt or sour cream. This was the first time I used yogurt.

  • 13 Gramma Hazel // May 3, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I’m convinced! I’d love to try these pancakes, especially when you’re here. I’ll have the ingredients ready. Gram

  • 14 Lemon Poppyseed Ricotta Pancakes « Sweet N Savory // May 25, 2008 at 8:24 am

    […] what I was going to make.  But, I’d seen a few variations in the blogosphere lately, so I tweaked a couple of them to come up with these […]

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