Classic Pancakes

Pancake suppers have a storied past, including during the Lenten season.

Recipe contributed by Leslie Criss

From a short stack of three to a plateful of silver dollars, who doesn’t love the occasional breakfast — or supper — of pancakes? The delicious flat cakes, served up with a bit of butter and the sweet stickiness of syrup, honey or a fruit compote, have been around for thousands of years.

First called pancakes in the 15th century, they have also been known as johnnycakes, journey cakes, buckwheat cakes, griddle cakes and flapjacks.

British Christians in the 16th century began the custom of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. In the Christian liturgical calendar, Lent is a six-week period of prayer, preparation and fasting that ends the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Those who observe Lent work to imitate Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, when he fasted and prepared for his public ministry.

As history has it, since observers of Lent were not allowed to eat any food products that came from animals, some people may have overindulged on Shrove Tuesday to keep those foods from being wasted. They’d stir up a bowl of batter and cook up a batch of pancakes. The tradition became so popular that Shrove Tuesday also became known as Pancake Day in some western European countries.

Many churches still celebrate Shrove Tuesday with a pancake supper. For years, the youth of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Tupelo — with a little help from the adults — have hosted a pancake supper to raise funds for projects and to kick off the season of Lent with a gathering where folks fellowship while enjoying pancakes.

Try this classic pancake recipe for a fun meal for breakfast, brunch or dinner. Eat them in the traditional way, with butter and sweet toppings, or tweak the ingredients to make specialty pancakes to please every appetite in the family.

Classic Pancakes

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 3½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1¼ cups milk

  • 1 egg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center, and pour in the milk, egg, vanilla and melted butter. Mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Pour or spoon batter onto the griddle, using approximately ¼ cup for each pancake. Flip when the tops begin to bubble. Brown on both sides, and serve hot with butter and choice of toppings.

For blueberry pancakes, fold ¾ cup fresh blueberries into the batter before cooking.

For chocolate chip pancakes, fold ½ cup chocolate chips into the batter before cooking.

For pecan pancakes, fold ¾ cup finely chopped pecans into the batter before cooking. The pecans may be toasted first, if desired.

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