Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Please, Make Your Own...Pancake Mix

Just about everyone loves to have a pancake breakfast every now and then, and just about everyone makes their pancakes from one of the various mixes that are available in the grocery store.  Well, I'm here to tell you that you can do better, and without sacrificing convenience.

The good news about store bought pancake mixes is that most of them are at least made with ingredients that we all recognize.  The bad news is that even though the ingredient list doesn't read like a science project, it's by no means a list of nutritional all-stars.  With a few notable exceptions, pancake mixes are made with enriched white flour (wheat flour that has been stripped of various healthful components and then had vitamins added back in).  Not only does this not give your pancakes much character or flavor, it is largely devoid of any real nutritional value.  Of course we want our food to taste great, but let's face it, getting some nutrition is at least part of why we eat breakfast in the first place.  And the majority of store bought pancake mixes are pretty much failing on both counts.

To see a better way to make pancakes in a flash, click "read more".

The solution to boring pancakes, without having to take any longer to make them, is to make your own homemade pancake mix to keep in your pantry.  Just like a store bought mix, whenever you want pancakes you just pull out the mix, add the wet ingredients, stir, and griddle away.  And the best part?  Start to finish, putting the mix together takes less than five minutes.

Here is a very basic recipe that you can adjust to suit your own tastes and what you have in your own pantry.

Pancake Mix

4 cups assorted whole grain flours (see note below)
2 to 4 Tbs. sugar (depending on your personal sweetness preference)
4 Tbs. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
Optional (only do this if you will be storing your mix in the refrigerator):  3/4 c. powdered buttermilk

Measure all ingredients into an 8 cup container with an airtight lid.  Snap on the lid.  Shake thoroughly to completely mix the ingredients.  That's it, you're done!

Note on the assorted flours:  You can essentially use whatever whole grain flours you happen to have on hand.  I suggest using at least 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, but beyond that you can play with whatever you like.  Buckwheat pancackes are a delicious classic, just do 2 cups buckwheat flour and 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour.  As you can see in the pic, I happened to have millet flour and milled flaxseed on hand, so that's what I used (I used 1/2 cup milled flaxseed and 1/2 cup millet flour, along with 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour).  You can use oat flour, brown rice flour, just check your store's natural foods aisle and see what looks interesting and give it a try.  Whole grain corn meal (1/2 cup or so) is one option that adds an interesting dimension to pancakes.  You can certainly also use just whole wheat pastry flour if you like.

So when you're ready to make some pancakes, give your mix another good shake to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed, preheat your griddle, and for each 1 cup of mix you plan to use, mix the following together in a bowl:

1 beaten egg
2 Tbs. oil
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk (if you used powdered buttermilk you can actually add water or milk; if you didn't use powdered buttermilk you can use either milk or liquid buttermilk)

Pour these wet ingredients on top of the 1 cup of dry mix.  Gently and briefly stir with a rubber spatula just until it comes together, maybe about 20 stirs.  It's fine if it's a bit lumpy, as long as there aren't large areas of dry powder.  Having small lumps is much preferable to overmixing which makes the pancakes tough.  Let your batter rest for 5 minutes to relax any gluten formed by the mixing process, then go ahead and pour your batter onto a griddle that has been sprayed with cooking spray or coated with oil or butter, and cook just as you would any other pancake.  Your yield will depend on how big you make your pancakes...I usually end up with 8 or 9.

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