Of the Earth: Sunday morning’s perfect pair

  • Wesley Blixt spends his Sunday mornings with newspapers and a stack of fluffy pancakes accompanied by whatever fruit is in season locally. For the Recorder/Wesley Blixt

  • BLIXT

For the Recorder
Published: 7/17/2018 2:15:22 PM

Sunday mornings just aren’t the same around our house.

This is how it used be: the disappointments of last week were put to rest as hopes for a new week began to take shape; “On Being” with Krista Tippett was purring on the radio; The New York Times was on the doorstep; and of course, there were stacks of perfect pancakes, bolstered by whatever was in season locally — strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches or nectarines.

But things have changed.

The problem is the Times. We used to sit at the Sunday breakfast table trading astonishment as we heaved fat news and feature sections pages across the table to each other, riffing, fascinated, outraged. “Well, will ya look at this... ,” I’d say. “Oh, we’ll definitely have to go see this...,” Sadie would say.

No more. Now, it seems, she has read the whole paper online by around Wednesday. These days, I get emails that say something like “Sadie thought you would be interested in this article...” I usually am interested, I suppose. But it’s not like a real Sunday morning. She always knows more than I do, and sooner. Online.

Fortunately, we still have perfect pancakes. I call them Broadsheet Pancakes because they remain connected to the print news cycle, even if that cycle has deteriorated.

Truth is, I didn’t grow up with perfect pancakes. My mother, for instance, used Bisquick, referred to Fannie Farmer and made terrible mistakes and terrible pancakes — flat, bland and flaccid in ways I simply came to expect. And breakfast at my paternal grandmother’s house consisted of sill (pickled herring), vort limpa (Swedish rye bread) and baked beans. Nice, in a Swedish way, but not like pancakes.

It is in that spirit that I offer this recipe, one that I believe represents the very best in everything pancake. It is inspired, in part, by America’s Test Kitchen at Cook’s Illustrated, with some adaptations.

The Test Kitchen, as many readers know, is meticulous in its chemistry, and in this case, they choose to balance baking soda, an alkali, with the acidic buttermilk to create a lovely crisp brown exterior.

Some important notes:

The Cook’s recipe calls for ¼ cup sour cream. We find that whole milk plain yogurt works better. And Greek yogurt is marginally better because it is thinner.

The buttermilk really needs to have a milk fat content of at least 1 percent. Fat-free and “less that 1 percent” just don’t work as well.

Cook’s calls for dropping four pancakes in a 12-inch skillet, but we find that three is about the limit.

A low protein flour like Gold Metal or Pillsbury is recommended for this recipe. A higher protein flour like King Arthur is just fine, but an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk is recommended.

Central to this recipe is allowing the batter to remain lumpy, and then letting it sit for 10 minutes. Don’t skip that.

Finally, don’t forget to supplement their experimentation with your own. You’ll know by the feel when it’s just right.

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 T sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

¼ cups yogurt

2 large eggs

3 T unsalted butter

1 to 2 tsp. vegetable oil

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, yogurt, eggs and butter.

Pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir until just combined, allowing batter to remain lumpy with a few streaks of flour. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat, until shimmering.

Carefully wipe the oil from the skillet with a paper towel, leaving a thin film.

Place ¼ cup portions of the batter in the pan in four places, cooking until the edges are set, first side is golden brown and bubbles on the top surface are just beginning to break (2 to 3 minutes).

Flip the pancakes with a thin, wide spatula and continue to cook until the second side is golden brown.

Spoon whatever fruit is in season over the pancakes with a dollop of local maple syrup in between.

Refresh your coffee mug.

Spread The New York Times out fully on the table (although almost any broadsheet, including the Boston Globe, will do).

Relish the perfection — in print and on the plate.

Wesley Blixt lives in Greenfield. He is a longtime reporter and is the author of “SKATERS: A Novel.” Send him recipes, stories and suggestions at wesleyblixt@me.com.




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