It's the end of the school holidays, which means it's the start of the school term. The bank account is empty courtesty of Santa and the School Uniform Shop and the kids still want a treat. Hells Bells, as my Aunty Myrtle used to say!
When I was a kid, pancakes were the ultimate Mother Hubbard meal. You know the one where she looks in her cupboard and it's bare but she still has to feed herself and the dog and goodness knows who else? That was our place on weekends. In fact, that's still our place, but thanks to my humble childhood, I still know how to rustle up something from nothing.
I've actually managed to trump the family dynasty's secret budget busting pancake recipe though, by eliminating the need for an egg. One egg + flour + oil + a little milk and sugar used to be the recipe of choice for us, and probably for you too.
No egg = no yummy pancakes today.
But with the simple addition of some white vinegar and a little rest for the batter, we can now have pancakes even without an egg in our Mother Hubbards cupboard.
Budget Busting Pancakes
1 1/2 cups plain flour (GF flour works well too!)
2 tablespoons milk powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup water (if batter is too thick for your liking, add just one additional dessertspoon of water at a time to achieve the consistency you prefer. My batter is quite thick, and needs to be scooped out with a spoon. This is not a 'pouring' style batter)
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter or margarine
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or vanilla extract
You'll also need a nonstick pan, a plate to hold your cooked pancakes, cooking spray or a little butter, oil or margarine, and a spatula. Of course honey, maple syrup, fruit and yoghurt or ice cream and caramel sauce are all an excellent idea for satisfying pancake consumption too. Our favourite used to be a little butter whipped in a bowl with honey to sweeten it, so steal our idea if you wish. It's certainly a frugal option!
A much neglected secret I learned at my Grandmothers knee on the subject of perfect pancakes, is to have a thin, neat edged spatula with which to flip them. A metal one is best. Basically, dodgy plastic egg flip thingy with rough forward edge = rough looking pancakes with nasty blobby edge. And one more? Only cook one neat pancake at a time. Do not be tempted to try and fit three in the pan. It's difficult to flip 'em, and it just gets messy.
Now, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a hollow in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix well with a whisk until smooth.
Allow the batter to rest for 30 minutes. You'll notice bubbles forming on the surface. Do not be tempted to stir the batter again. You'll be scooping it straight in to your hot pan, fluffy air bubbles intact.
Heat a non-stick pan over a medium high hotplate and spray it liberally with cooking spray or just a smidge of oil or butter. Honestly, you don't want them to 'fry' as such. The dryer the surface of the pan, the better. If you don't have spray oil, melt a little butter or margarine in the pan, then remove it from the heat and wipe the melted butter away with a paper towel. That's how little you need. And that pan has to be nice and hot initially, but you'll be turning it down to about 2/3 of full power after the first pancake bites the dust.
Accept that the first pancake, for reasons only known to the cosmos, will always fall into the aforementioned dodgy category. If you can get a picture perfect pancake on the first go, I want to hear about it. I think it's the Universe's way of keeping us humble...he-he!
Take a large serving spoon or 1/3 cup measuring cup and scoop it full of bubbly batter. Plop the batter into the middle of your hot, lightly greased pan, and spread it quickly with the back of the spoon or the edge of the measuring cup, into a nice, even circle.
Watch for the edges of your pancake to cook and rise slightly and for bubbles to form on the surface. Do not try to flip your pancake until a nice firm edge has formed or you'll end up with aliens, not pancakes. Slide your lovely thin spatula under one edge of the pancake and if it lifts easily with no ensuing dribbles messing up your neat circle, it's ready to flip. At this stage, your pancake is pretty much done, and you're just browning the other side, so give it about thirty seconds, lift it to check for a nice golden colour and slide it onto a waiting plate.
Turn the hotplate down to 2/3 full heat.
Continue with the rest of your batter, cleaning the edge of your spatula thoroughly after flipping each pancake. It's a simple thing that really makes a difference.
Keep cooking and stacking those pancakes till the batter is all used. This quantity makes 6-10 decent sized pancakes, so enough for one good pancake eating session, whether for 2 big kids or 10 littlies.
Pat yourself on the back for being such a great parent. Kids fed, takeaway visit averted, happy tummies...it doesn't get much better than that!