Thursday, June 22, 2006

THE GREAT DEBATE #1: fluffy vs. thin

Ok so being audience responsive as always, I thought I better address the mega issue of fluffy versus thin. No not hair types.. fluff beats thin there like rock to your scissors. I’m talking pancakes. Specifically I’m talking pancakes you make at home – eating out is a whole different post.

I’ll admit I’ve had some longstanding thick pancake loyalties which have been challenged by some recent crepe experiences. I’ve been forced me to look at where these prejudices come from. I think in my family of origin (to use my newfound therapist’s vocab) pancakes uncomfortably straddled the line between thin and fluffy. They were eggy but not crepes, they were thick but not fluffy. I mean, I’m no ingrate, I’m happy my dad made us any pancakes at all and his birthday special – with bits of apple in the mix – was pretty fine. But let’s just say when I discovered that with a bit of baking powder, some melted butter and a good whisking wrist you could get big fluffy pancakes that soaked up lots and lots of syrup I was as happy as a kid at the pancake parlour. (Lets not talk about when we dared Robin to scull the jug of syrup at that establishment).

So yeah, thick pancakes for me are all about the soaking up of real pure maple syrup. Sometimes though, I’ll admit it, they can be just a little too much to chow down on first thing. And not that popular with the ladies. Despite this creeping sense that maybe I’m backing the losing side, I’ve not yet strayed from my fluffy ways, partly because I’ve been intimidated by figuring out how to make crepes.

But the other morning I had crepes made for me that were so perfect and eggy and buttery and light. Wrapped around “the best marmalade in the world” they were just too good to be ignored. You know, you can eat a lot more crepes than pancakes. Which means a lot more marmalade. Time to learn how to make crepes?

So dear readers, let the debate begin…

Ps – I have also been getting into pikelets lately – maybe fluffiness but smaller. At the beach we had them with 5 types of jam and cream and that was a darn fine spread.

Pps – I suppose also, that faced with the dilemna of wanting to make the best of a gifted bottle of organic maple syrup, as I am now, I might also opt for some French toast. Made with challah or greek egg bread of course. Dusted with cinnamon… now that’s not sounding too bad at all.


jenjen said...

This one is a toughie. I love fluffy pancakes, but they can be a bit too filling. I can only usually have one. That is where the crepe comes in, because of their thinnes you can have a bit more. Also the crepe lends to having both savoury and sweet fillings/toppings.
But then there are picklets which I think are a managable form of the big fullfy pancakes.
If you ask me I couldn't choose between any of them, but that's just because im a glutton.

gaylourdes said...

oh so many things and ideas and opinions! let me start with a story...

when we were very young, my brothers and I would make pancakes on the rectangualr electric "Menu-master", and they seemed to be of the same size, shape and consistency to your family of origin.

the important thing though, was to always make a couple of test pancakes, pikelet size, one of which you cut up and ate (tested) and the other that you left up in the corner to get nice and crispy and solid enough to whack around the kitchen with the eggflippers. what kicks!

the pancakes at the annual st george anglican church fete were of a similar consistancy (not to the test pancake) but spectacularly huge. They had to be, cos they were poured out of 2L milk jugs and all buttery and lemony and crunchy sugar rolled up fast in paper towel.

so i am rather fond of this type of pancake, but i like pikelets too. they're merry little souls.

for fluffy pikelets i have it on good authority that buttermilk is all the go and they're much better if you fry them in lard. i think vegetable shortening exists, though i can't quite fathom how they do it.
i guess if you can get blood out of stone...

and i like the french toast idea: these are great if you make little baguette sandwiches with a smidge of melted dark chocolate before you dunk and fry.

oh. how churchy is this comment? ye gods!

sorenson said...

to throw something completely different into the mix - when i was a kid my mum (who was generally too much of a macrobiotic health nut to make anything i liked) used to make these amazing buckwheat pancakes. i don't know how she did it - they were chewy and nutty and had that honeycomb texture that soaked up nuttlex and honey (no butter in our house - we were milk-free too) like nothing you've ever seen. they were the best. come to think of it, i have all her cookbooks now - i should see if i can find the recipe!

(as for fluffy vs thin, i like both. simple.)

Another Outspoken Female said...

That's like asking which child you love best!

I prefer crepes as a vehicle to wrap savoury fillings and fluffy for soaking up butter and syrup.

I used to make wholesome breakfast pancakes with oats that I had ground in a food mill to make a flour (plus a bit of baking powder) that were good for sweet or savoury.

Ali H said...

Hmmm. This is a really worthwhile question, Esther!
Before I went to the States I got all proactive on the fluffy pancake front and started making them with beaten eggwhites- which still spins me out, because who the hell wants to beat eggwhites first thing in the morning?
Not me, anymore.
Then I went to America, the land of buttermilk and ridiculous quantities of maple syrup, and for a while I was a fan of that sort of fluffy-but-dense topping-absorbing delight. Really, I don't think I'll ever get over buttermilk- what an amazing ingredient. It's probably the best thing about American cuisine, except maybe for onion rings.
But they were kind of dense and overwhelming, and much more suited to chilly foggy San Francisco than (currently also chilly & foggy) Sydney.
If you find a crepe recipe that works for you, I will gladly attempt that path in resolving the pancake debate. For now I am sticking with pikelets, because I am much more excited about afternoon tea than breakfast at the moment.

shannon said...

i was a late comer to the church. i didn't like the pikelets and pancakes when i was young. i always used to feel bad when my friends would want to cook pikelets after (primary) school and i couldn't even fake excitement. but now - totally delicious!

esther said...

hey thanks all for your contributions to the debate. i thought everyone would be heavily on the side of crepes because that's always what happens when I'm making breakfast for a crowd. but no, it seems there're old schoolers still out there.

and now gaylourdes i am so so tempted to start whacking pancakes around the kitchen with flippers... maybe in sydney?

as for the rest of you:
jenjen - i couldn't agree more.

sorensen - yes yes, i am so there for buckwheat. but so so filling.

outspoken - well grinding oats sounds almost as painful as beating eggwhites before breakfast but almost as delicious as buckwheat. or are they soft to grind? we have a grinder at my place.

ali - i too am amazed by buttermilk. did you know it's meant to be really easy to grow your own? i will try to learn from the crepe master and share my findings..

shannon - how could you not like pancakes as a child? olives, maybe. but pancakes? crazy kid. glad you have converted.