“‘Oh, my! I wisht – I wisht we had a cake. I wisht we had – a cake or somepin.’ ’I'll set some coffee on an’ make up some pancakes,’” Ma said. ’We got sirup’ ’Oh, my!’ Mrs. Wainright said. ’ Why – well. Look, I’ll bring some sugar. We’ll put sugar in them pancakes.’” From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The family has gotten a little flush from a few weeks’ worth of good cotton picking, they are living in an old boxcar which they share with another family and they are about to celebrate a wedding – with pancakes because that’s the best they can pull together. It’s incredible how ready they are to celebrate just anything and share what little they have in order to make the occasion as special as they can.
Pancakes (A Half Recipe)
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter
Mix everything together in a bowl and if you forgot the egg the first time, as I did, you can mix it in after. You don’t want to overmix your batter though, there should be small lumps, they’re delicious. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spread some cooking oil around it (or butter, as you choose, or lard, if you think you can stand it). When the pan is evenly heated, start pouring out your pancake batter. I sometimes tend toward the whimsical myself and so I made my pancakes look like a bear and a dinosaur (I don’t know why the dinosaur head looks like the head of the Alien in the Ridley Scott movies – it was a fluke). The trick to making good pancakes is not to let them burn but also not to try and flip them too soon. You want to wait until a good number of bubbles have started to appear on the top, and then you want to test your pancake’s flippability by checking whether you can get the spatula under it easily, if it sticks at all, it’s not ready to be flipped. Serve hot with “sirop” and butter, if you’re feeling decadent, and enjoy!
I prefer real maple syrup. As I’ve said before, there are certain things that you just can’t skimp on and we grew up with real maple syrup as a staple in our home. Real maple syrup aside, this was a super cheap meal, since everything was in my kitchen already. I had two critter shaped cakes for dinner and have enough batter leftover to make some for breakfast tomorrow.
There are an infinite number of ways you could jazz this up, and that’s not including pancake shape competitions, so let your imagination run wild. I thought of adding crumbled bacon (or candied and crumbled bacon?) right to my batter, but the bacon was going to take too long to defrost and I was hungry.