Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Perfect Pancake

I know a title like that is just itchin' for a fight, but the title isn't mine -- it's the title of the magazine article where I first found the recipe -- and anyway, while this recipe may not be your idea of perfection, it's been my favorite pancake recipe for over 20 years, so I'll stand by the title. It's certainly perfect to me.

I found the recipe back when I subscribed to Country Journal magazine, tried it almost immediately, and made it for overnight company many times, with frequent requests for the recipe. Quite simply, I love it, and others seemed to like it as well.

So of course I was very unhappy when I was looking for it one day about 5 years ago and couldn't find it.

I no longer had the magazine because I'd written the recipe on a card. I immediately searched through my entire card file and then began leafing through my cookbooks, thinking I might have stuck it in one as a bookmark.

No luck.

I tried to remember exactly who might have the recipe from my sharing it.

No luck.

I searched the Internet.

No luck.

Finally, I began looking at pancake recipes with a similar ingredient list, mainly looking at recipes that had cornmeal, oats, and whole wheat flour. I remembered that much so I figured I could come up with something close, either with another recipe, or by experimenting a little.

But it's bothered me that I didn't have the recipe, I was never quite satisfied with "substitutes," and today, thinking of pancakes, I decided to try another Internet search. Things get posted all the time, so it was certainly possible that it had been posted since I last looked. Hope springs eternal, and all that.

Googled "Country Journal pancake recipe."

And there it was.

Someone else had been looking for it and submitted a request to the Hartford Courant's recipe request column. And someone else saw the request and replied.

Thank you, reader who requested it. Thank you, reader who saw the request and replied (others replied with the same recipe, so I'm obviously not the only one who thought this was a keeper!). Thank you, Hartford Courant, for publishing all of it. Thank you, Country Journal, for printing the original recipe in January 1987. And thank you, woman who shared the recipe with Country Journal and started all this. I wish I could remember her name to give her credit. Maybe someone will see this and share it with me.

I know what I'm having for dinner tonight. But before I head to the kitchen...



  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter (cooled) or oil


Combine dry ingredients, including walnuts, in a large bowl and mix. In separate bowl, beat eggs, lightly, then blend in remaining liquids.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add liquids all at once. Blend with a few deft strokes. Let sit 10 minutes, then cook on a hot griddle. Makes about 15, 5-inch cakes.


Letting the batter sit 10 minutes or so really is important. The flour absorbs some liquid and makes the batter thicker.

Adjust the liquids or flour to your liking for thinner or thicker pancakes.

This recipe is perfect as is, but over time I tried different versions... the biggest change being that I omitted the walnuts. Really great with them, but if you don't have them, substitute other nuts (toasted pecans... yum!) or leave them out. Since they don't absorb liquid, the omission never affected the batter.

One of the reasons I like this recipe is that it calls for milk rather than buttermilk. I rarely have buttermilk on hand and appreciate not having to sour milk. And, for those who can't have milk at all, I found the recipe worked just as well with soy milk or even water, with no noticeable change in flavor or texture.

I also got to where I left the honey out. After all, you're probably putting maple syrup on them anyway, so they really don't need the sweetener. And the whole grain flour makes them slightly sweet. But you can use the honey, or molasses, or even brown or some other sugar. You may have to make slight (very slight) adjustments to the fluid content of the recipe but pancake batter is fairly forgiving.

I generally used 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (regular or pastry, both work) and left out the unbleached flour.

You can also add whatever fruit you like to the batter. A good fall apple, peeled, chopped, and tossed in, is perfect with what is already perfection.

Don't forget the 100% pure, warm maple syrup.

And don't forget to cook, eat, dance, love!