"As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have to end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can't be like pancakes... all exciting at first, but then by the end you're fuckin' sick of 'em."
We've all been there, right? Not with comedy, but with pancakes.
Be it Sunday brunch or a late-night, post-pub Denny's-style-diner outting, we've confidently announced, "I'll have pancake stack, my good lady!" with an immense sense of anticipation and self-satisfaction.
We've then sat back, full of starchy hubris, confidently tucking our napkins into our shirt collars, holding knife and fork vertically before us in clenched fists, watching the kitchen doors with salivary glands pumping at capacity.
After an excruciating eight to ten minutes, the big moment finally arrived, and when it did, we looked at those around us with foolish grins, beaming as if lit up by a galaxy of birthday candles. Our breathless expressions gloated, bragged, and boasted wordlessly as the oversized plate was placed before us. We surveyed our dining companions with their lackluster omelets, their pedestrian southwestern scrambles. If only they'd thought bigger! They could have had all of this!
We lovingly doused our triumph in maple-like syrup substance and deliberately cut a perfect albeit oversized triangular bite. The moment that first morsel of buttery goodness hit our tongues, we closed our eyes and savored our victory. And what a sweet victory it was—a bright combination of hearty buttermilk, lightly nutty flour, warm melted butter, and rich maple syrup. That first bite was transcendent each and every time.
Unfortunately, that transcendence always paled very, very quickly; each subsequent bite brought us a degree further from nirvana as we slowly, regretfully slipped back to vulgar reality. The nature of that reality was and is as follows: the vast majority of pancakes are lead-heavy, bland, one-note disasters that tire before even a third of the stack has been fully masticated.
By the end of our meal (which never included actually finishing the plate of cakes) we would inevitable end up slumped, bloated but yet somehow smaller and meeker than before. What started as a guaranteed win ended in pathetic and very public defeat.
Indeed, we've all been there.
Fortunately, all pancakes are not created equal and all are not inherently regrettable. Some can be complex, light, satisfying, and most important of all, delicious to the last bite.
The beauty of these pancakes is their light and fluffy quality. You don't get that gut-heavy feeling halfway through your meal the way you do with your average griddle cake. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's because this recipe not only uses two chemical leaveners, but also because the carbonation present in the beer provides supplemental lift.
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup bread flour*
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup stout beer**
- 2 Tbsp melted butter (plus additional butter for griddle)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
*You can just use 1 cup all purpose if you want, but I didn't quite have enough AP, so I added a little bread flour with delicious results.
**Go for something interesting; the Belching Beaver Brewing Horchata Imperial Stout added an extra level of complexity.
- Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together until well combined.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, beer, egg, melted butter, and vanilla.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
- Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat; grease with butter or cooking spray.
- Drop approximately 1/4 cup scoops on the hot griddle. Cook until bubbles appear in the middle—this batter is on the thinner side, so look carefully for the bubbles. Flip and continue to cook until cooked through, about a minute longer.
- Top with maple syrup (or take it up a notch and top with bourbon butter maple syrup!)