Thursday, April 10, 2014

Write Away with Jeannie Watt ~ My Favorite Comfort Food

I’m not going to talk about writing today. I’m going to talk about pancakes. Pancakes are my go-to comfort food and sometimes when I'm in the middle of taming a troublesome story (and losing) I need a whole lot of comfort.

In college, I was the person in charge of making the late night pancakes my friends and I ate while sitting around and talking deep college talk. I figured my pancakes were popular because I made them from scratch and no one else I knew did. My hypothesis was given a boost when my-hard-to-impress foodie father-in-law asked for the name of the pancake mix I used…which leads me to my first tip for making great pancakes:

Tip #1 Don’t use a mix. It’s almost (almost…) as fast to make pancakes from scratch—especially if you have all the dry ingredients mixed ahead of time.
Tip#2 Use a whisk, not a spoon. (I think this is common knowledge, but in case one is a pancake novice, I thought I'd mention it.)

Tip #3 Do not over-beat the batter! I cannot emphasize this enough. Beating the flour starts the gluten expansion and that takes away all lightness and fluffiness. Mix only enough to get the dry ingredients blended into the wet ingredients. Then when you add the water at the end, stir as little as possible.  (The same goes with biscuits—handle the dough as little as possible.)

Tip #4 When cooking the pancakes, turn them as soon as the bubbles that form in the batter pop.

Here’s my recipe for pancakes:

Mix in a small bowl:
                1 cup flour (I use just a little less than a cup)
                1 teaspoon baking powder
                ½ teaspoon baking soda
                ½ teaspoon salt
                1 tablespoon sugar

Mix in a larger bowl:
                1 egg
                1 cup of buttermilk
     2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (when I’m being a purist, I use two tablespoons of melted      shortening, which makes lighter pancakes than oil)

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just blended. The batter will be a little thick. Add water until it’s the consistency you like, mixing for as short a time as possible. I prefer a thinner batter, because it makes a lighter pancake.  (It’s hard to explain batter thickness in writing. I can’t think of a proper analogy.)

I cook mine in a nonstick pan with a very light layer of oil or shortening coating the pan. My husband (who stirs his batter too much) uses cast iron. Both pans work well.  This recipe can be doubled and tripled.

Harlequin Superromance author Jeannie Watt lives in rural Nevada and writes fast-paced, character driven stories set in the western United States. She also makes pancakes whenever there's buttermilk in the fridge.

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