Of all the delicious-looking recipes in Megan Gordon’s new cookbook Whole-Grain Mornings I find it ironic that the first one we tried was for pancakes — not because they weren’t wonderful (they were) but because as I’ve previously documented, my penchant in the morning is for oatmeal, peanut butter toast, something with yogurt or fruit, or even something as delightfully savory as leftover brown rice fried in olive oil with a bit of cheddar cheese and a fried egg on top. Still it’s true that in recent months — really, since the advent of Sierra — I’ve indulged in a sweet morning treat after the rather predictable bowl of oats or cereal with soy milk. So pancakes felt like a great way to meet in the middle; that they incorporated whole grains meant they would wholly satisfy, too.
Plus when the book arrived — amazon actually coming through and delivering it within about 10 days rather than the five weeks it took for my faux Christmas tree to arrive (yes, it did arrive after the holiday and I summarily stowed it in the garage still in its box) — DW offered straight away to make the pancakes featured on the cover for breakfast. How could I say no?
Saturday morning I (we) woke up around 5:30 for someone‘s early brekkie and I just could not get back to sleep. So downstairs I came to have a cup of tea and peruse W-G Mornings in the pre-dawn quiet dark of Casablanca while the other two slumbered peacefully upstairs. Despite my lingering fatigue I cannot say I minded: there is something indescribably special about being the only one awake in your house before the sun breaks through the fog with only birds for company. I read a little of the New York Times online. I thought about what we might do that afternoon. Then I put together the whole-grain pancake mix.
Full disclosure: I did not have all the flours called for on hand so I had to improvise. No doubt these pancakes would be even better had I been able to create the recipe as written but even so they were fantastic. We used up the last of the buttermilk and the rest of the coffee and while the girl had her morning nap we sat in the sunny kitchen with the window open and doused our ‘flapjacks’ with maple syrup from Trader Joe’s (and I will stretch that stuff out as long as I possibly can) and listened to KFOG. It was a pretty stellar morning.
I’m not sure how I came to Megan’s blog A Sweet Spoonful — I think it was after we participated in the 2011 LitCrawl –, but we have a lot in common: 1. the native Californian thing; 2. mutual fans of the whole grains; 3. baking is a near-constant past-time. I love her blog for her straightforward approach to food but also for her words, which always make me stop and think (I described her food and recipe writing to DW as ‘meticulous’). I’ve been excited about this book for a long time and am so glad it’s finally in my kitchen. Recipes I’ve bookmarked for ‘very soon’ include the oven-baked asparagus/pea/farro frittata, the peanut butter crispy brown rice bars, the quinoa crunch, and the fried halloumi with sun-dried tomato and roasted red pepper couscous.
Writing a cookbook is no easy trick, and as I looked through Megan’s I was struck by the diversity and breadth of the recipes (she even snuck one in her for deliciously addictive granola, though frankly I prefer to order directly from the source). As I worked on my own book I also tried to keep things as interesting as possible but, you know, that’s hard, man. You can produce so many iterations of chocolate cake or oatmeal but to make that variation your own is an art (side note: tomorrow morning I plan to make Megan’s version of oatmeal and I’m looking forward to it already). I exchanged not a few emails with Megan re the whole cookbook-writing process and I was so grateful to have a friend with whom to commiserate along the way even from afar. When we finally got to sit down to coffee at the Mill last spring with our friend Anne it was so wonderful to be able to enter into all sorts of writing and food chat with no worry that anyone would tire of it. I sorely need more of that these days!
In the meanwhile, I have a lot of whole grain flours to accumulate (thanks to the power of the Internet, I just received an enormous bag of brown sugar and another of whole wheat pastry flour so I am making progress) and new recipes to explore. Breakfast, as Megan writes, does truly usher us into the day and it’s important to make it count. This beautiful cookbook certainly goes a long way toward helping us to do just that.
As I mentioned, I don’t have a lot of whole grain flours on hand at the moment — so I had to improvise. Fortunately I did/do have whole wheat pastry flour so I relied upon that here. I heartily suggest checking out Megan’s book for the original recipe, though we had no complaints about these. We smothered them in some of the strawberry-rhubarb jam I made last spring and it almost felt like June, not January.
1. Whole Grain Pancake Mix (my version):
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 fine-ground cornmeal
1/4 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sald
In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Keep in a large resealable plastic bag or glass jar; mix will keep for 6-8 weeks in the pantry (3-4 months in the fridge). Give the mix a good stir before using.
2. Make pancakes:
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for greasing the pan and serving
1 cup pancake mix
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, buttermilk, and butter. Whisk the pancake mix int the milk mixture until smooth. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes. If it is too thick, whisk in 1 tablespoon milk to loosen.
Melt a bit of butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium heat (melted butter should completely cover pan). Scoop 1/4 cup batter into the pan and cook each pancake until until bottom is golden brown and the top begins to bubble, 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook the other side an additional 1-2 minutes. Add more butter in between each addition of batter and repeat until all the batter is used up (DW kept the pancakes warm in the oven).
Serve warm with maple syrup and jam, if desired.