According to the Oxford English dictionary, a "pancake" is "a thin, flat cake of batter, fried and turned in a pan." (A pancake is apparently also "theatrical make-up consisting of a flat solid layer of compressed powder," but this sounds much less appetizing.) I had to turn to the word "flapjack" for a definition more alligned with the pancakes my mother and grandmother make: "N. America: a soft, thick biscuit." When my mother, a southern girl from the land of very big pancakes, first moved to Israel, she learned to call her breakfast concoction "American pancakes" after one of her Israeli friends peered into the skillet and shouted in shock: "They're puffing up! The pancakes are puffing up! Something's wrong!"
It's no wonder, then, that I grew up with pancakes galore, of all definitions: "pancakes" paper-thin and ethereal, wrapped around fruit and whipped cream, and "pancakes" so thick and fluffy they rose above the sides of the skillet as they cooked.
As per the Oxford English Dictionary I should properly call my grandmother's pancake recipe "flapjacks," but a more apt description would be to point out all the reasons I adore them -their healthful, hearty whole wheat, the dainty and warm touch of honey, and, best of all, the fact that they are devoid of all the guilt of their famous diner-style cousins but still have every bit of the glorious texture and meltingly delightful flavor.
And since we fix these pancakes nearly every Sunday morning (usually with chocolate chips, or even peanut butter, stirred into the batter!), it seemed fitting that I finally share the recipe...
(P.S. When I visited my parents and grandparents at the beginning of the month, can you guess what we had for breakfast?)
Here's my mother, fixing the glorious batch of pancakes for everyone...
and Dad, awaiting pancakes, cup of coffee in hand...
and Emily, one of my college roommates, who joined us for the grand reunion breakfast, with her pancake creation!
(no photos of me with pancakes this time - as sous chef for the day, I was busy slicing plums. :-)
Grandma's Honey Whole Wheat "Pancakes"
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1/3 cup honey 2 egg whites 1 cup low fat buttermilk 1 T olive oil 1 tsp vanilla Optional, as desired: 1/2 cup chocolate chips, or 1/2 cup peanut butter, or 1/2 cup pecans, or 1 cup blueberries
~ Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. ~ In a second, larger bowl, whisk together the egg whites, buttermilk, and honey until well blended. ~ Pour the flour mixture in to the egg mixture, and stir until just combined. ~ Stir in the olive oil and vanilla, again just until combined. Fold in any of the optional additions, if desired... ~ Heat a large, non-stick skillet, coated with cooking spray, over medium heat. Pour pancake batter onto skillet in individual "pancake" portions about 1/3 cup each. Cook until lightly browned on each side, turning once. Between each batch of pancakes, re-coat the skillet with cooking spray. ~ Serve warm, with your choice of toppings: maple syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit, honey, molasses, etc, etc... :-)