pancakesPancakes are almost as ingrained into American cuisine culture as apple pie. Nothing brings the family rushing to the kitchen faster than word that pancakes are on the griddle, and they are one of the top sellers on restaurant menus. Sweet breakfast pancakes are the most popular kind but savory pancakes are unique side dishes for lunch and dinner.

One of the things that makes breakfast pancakes so appealing is you can alter the recipes to match any taste through adding assorted ingredients to the batter, on top of the pancakes while they are cooking and customize each plate with additional toppings after they’re done.

Basic Batters

Pancake batter is made from flour or ground grains mixed with eggs, milk, leavening ingredients and a bit of oil to keep them from sticking to the griddle or skillet. Common varieties include traditional, buttermilk, corn meal, buckwheat, oatmeal, sour cream, and ricotta. If acidic ingredients such as buttermilk, sour cream, or ricotta are in the recipe, baking soda is typically used along with baking powder as leaveners. Pancakes made with regular milk and no acidics typically call only for baking powder.

Cooked-In Flavors

It’s easy to transform regular pancake batter into “gourmet” batter by mixing in smooth ingredients like canned pumpkin or applesauce. If you use either of these flavor enhancers, add a pinch or two of cinnamon and nutmeg to intensify the tastes. Ricotta pancakes taste great with a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon juice added to the mixture. Add sweetened coconut milk to the batter for tropical tasting pancakes.

For added flavor plus texture, sprinkle blueberries, finely diced peaches, chocolate chips, or raisins on the tops of the pancakes before turning them, right after bubbles start to form on the surface. Mixing these ingredients directly into the batter is not recommended as the sugar content makes the underside of the pancakes burn or scorch and ruins the flavor. Experiment with sprinkles of tiny pieces of fresh pineapple mixed with toasted coconut or toasted or roasted chopped nuts.

Topping Time

Purists prefer their pancakes simply dressed with a dollop of soft butter and perhaps a drizzle of maple syrup but for many, the more toppings, the better. Chunky homemade applesauce is a favorite fruit topping, along with fresh strawberries macerated in a little sugar, sliced dead-ripe bananas, and fresh, sliced peaches. Whipped cream is a common topping but borders on turning a breakfast dish into dessert.

While maple syrup is traditionally poured on pancakes, there are many syrup choices available including cherry, blueberry, pineapple, blackberry, cinnamon and even a few flavored with liquors and liqueurs. Slightly warming the syrup before serving helps it penetrate