Monday, September 15, 2008

48. Ruth's Pancakes (p. 645)

To be honest, I was a little intimidated by this recipe.* After all, it comes from Ruth Reichl, the Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet, and my tour guide on this crazy quest of mine. What if I messed them up? Or worse, what if I didn't like them? How could I go on with The Project? How could I face Ms. Reichl if I ever get the chance to meet her? Well, thankfully, the crisis was averted. The pancakes came out great, and they were amazing.

In the interest of full disclosure, this recipe calls for a whole stick of butter (pause here while my wife winces), resulting in some very rich pancakes. But in the recipe's defense, The Book says that these pancakes are to be reserved for those times when "you need to pull out all the stops for an Extremely Special Breakfast." (The emphasis in this quote is The Book's, not mine. I'm not sure what an "Extremely Special Breakfast" is, but for me cooking breakfast for Ruth Reichl might be an example.)

One thing that was unexpected, and a little cool, about this recipe was that the greater-than-usual amount of baking powder called for (four teaspoons), caused the batter to start to rise while it was still in the mixing bowl, even before it got to the skillet. The result is a pancake that, while rich, was still light and airy.

I also appreciated The Book's suggestion of putting the pancakes into a 200-degree oven as they come off the skillet to keep them warm until they're all done and everyone's ready to eat. This is one of those brilliantly simple ideas that make you say, "Why didn't I think of that?" Now, my wife and I can both eat hot pancakes at the same time.

These pancakes were excellent. They were buttery (how could they not be!), crispy, fluffy, and they didn't need anything more than a little pure Vermont maple syrup to finish them off. Curiously, unlike other recipes in The Book, which say that the recipe "Serves 4 to 6," this recipe says that it "Makes about 8 pancakes." Could the reason for this be that if two people just happen to eat all eight pancakes between them (and I'm not saying that that's what my wife and I did), they won't feel like pigs for eating an entire recipe that "Serves 12"?

I think that for a typical, no-frills Sunday-morning breakfast, I'll stick to my stand-by, Joy of Cooking pancake recipe. But the next time I have an "Extremely Special Breakfast," (stop by any time, Ms. Reichl, you're always welcome!), this will be the recipe I'll use.

Date Cooked: August 31, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: B+

*This recipe isn't on


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

Yup, these pancakes are the bomb. Doesn't butter make everything better? :-)

Kiki said...

Are you telling me I ate a half a stick of butter in one sitting? Oy.