Here are some of my guidelines for the making and eating of pancakes. Or, what my family affectionately calls Hotcakes.
The first absolute MUST is to use a griddle. I have to confess I own approximately zero griddles. So do what I do, have one of your sisters go to as many garage sales as she can stand and purchase for you, a used electric skillet. You know the kind, the ones that were made to last….for a century or two. I think Thomas Edison invented mine so he could make pancakes at night by the stark light of the first light bulb. I swear this skillet I have is carved out of solid steel and weighs about 22 pounds. One day when we accidentally leave it plugged in and on, it will burn our house down, the cord gets that hot. Until then, we will have perfect hotcakes.
Next step is to beg, borrow or steal a sour dough starter. Yeah it’s sort of tedious and time consuming, but it’s also a family tradition starting back before the invention of store bought yeast and maybe even electric skillets. I was in sort of a dry spell for a long time where I didn’t have any sourdough starter, so I made my own. Now that is a lengthy process, the building of a starter. Flour, water and time. Stir, add some more time, stir again, refrigerate, turn the container, stir, shake….start over. I had a starter but it wasn’t very sour and hardly started. My friends up the street took pity on me and gave me a starter so I’ve been using that one for the last couple of years. It’s ok, nothing to write home abo…wait a minute, I guess I AM writing about it. Then one of my sisters sent all the siblings a cup from her starter batch and now I have two. I have yet to do a taste test as to which is better…
This is the part where people get particular about what they want on their hotcakes. Me? I like butter and clear Karo Syrup. I don’t like maple syrup, it competes with the taste of the sourdough. I love the way that the melted butter puddles in and around the sticky sweet syrup and dribbles some drop down the front of my shirt causing me to do laundry a little quicker than I wanted. I don’t like jam on hotcakes….that’s why toast was invented. Peanut butter? Don’t even think about it. Whip cream? Chocolate Chips? NO NO NO!!! There must be cold cold milk at every pancake breakfast…no milk? the pancakes will wait until there is some. Growing up in the 60’s with 7 children, food was expensive and there were a lot of mouths to feed. Mom would often try to get us to drink powered milk. She didn’t meet with much success, especially when it came to hotcake breakfast. There were usually no takers on the dry milk front….blech!
When mom passed away in December we were cleaning out her fridge and came across the most amazing amount of food. Why did this little tiny woman have 5 pound bags of, well, anything. There were huge bags of nuts, raisins, bread crumbs, chocolate chips and of course, a very depleted sour dough starter. The discovery of this starter was a homecoming all of its own. Countless times mom would start the fixings for breakfast the night before, it was part of the sourdough process. And like this time with mom and her demise, the sourdough had long ago fallen flat and was unusable. But that doesn’t stop the memories as this was the breakfast choice that I remember above all others. All of us kids waiting our turn for our hotcakes, because so few could be made at one time. Every once in a while Mom would create little letters for our names in the sourdough batter and dollar size pancakes that we could stack up as high as we could.
Regardless of what time of day you have sourdough hotcakes, they are always best served with love….and Karo syrup, butter and MILK, but mostly love.