I bought some multi-grain pancake mix, and last night I decided to cook some of it. The directions say to add an egg and some oil and milk to 1 cup of dry mix.
Sounds simple, right? Of course it does. The problem is that I’m the one in the kitchen. And when I put on my big white hat, there isn’t anything simple that can’t be made complicated plain that can’t be made nuanced.
What’s in the mixture, anyway? It’s mostly flour and some other stuff, right? Of course it is. So I looked for a recipe online and, sure enough, pancakes from scratch call for 1-1/2 cups of flour plus sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt (but I never cook with salt, so I left that out), and some egg, oil, and milk.
So, OK. If I combine all the ingredients from the pancake mix instructions, plus all the ingredients from the pancake-from-scratch recipe, that would work, right? Of course it would. So it must not be nuanced enough.
The recipe-from-scratch says to use 1-1/2 cups of flour, which translates to 6 portions of 1/4-cup each. That means, instead of the flour, I should be able to substitute up to six different things at 1/4 cup each, right? Of course I should. So I added 1/4 cup of rye flour, 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oatmeal, 1/4 cup of corn meal, and 1/4 cup of instant potato flakes.
I almost thawed some of my frozen rice cubes and frozen lentil cubes for the other two ingredients, but decided against it for now. Maybe in the next batch. This time, I left the other 1/2-cup alone and used plain ordinary all-purpose flour. I would have used egg whites instead of eggs, but I was out and the eggs needed using up anyway. I would have substituted applesauce for some of the oil, but I couldn’t find the guide that tells me the proportion of how much applesauce to how much oil. Maybe next time.
I topped off the mixture with some spices. How much, exactly? I don’t know, I didn’t measure. Enough cinnamon to cover the mixture in the mixing bowl. Then about half that much ginger. Then about half again as much of some stuff called mace, which supposedly goes well in poundcakes. I had never heard of it before, but I like spices and this one was on clearance. I guess most other people hadn’t heard of it, either. Oh, and some flaxseeds for texture.
The recipe-from-scratch also called for vanilla, but that’s just a flavoring, right? Of course it is. So I had considered that optional and skipped over it. But wait. What’s that I see on my spice shelf? Some vanilla flavoring I’d forgotten about. So I poured in about a teaspoon. Next to it was imitation rum flavoring. A little bit of that shouldn’t do incredible harm to such a large batch of batter, right? Of course it shouldn’t.
So, now for the test. How well did they actually cook, and how do they taste?
The answer is, remarkably well on both counts. Cooking the pancakes went without a hitch, partly due to using a new non-slotted spatula (that was one dollar well spent), and partly because the hitch is still attached to my car.
And for taste? They’re … well, nuanced. They certainly don’t scream “we’re plain ordinary pancakes”, but you can’t really say they taste like rye, or oats, or potatoes, or rum. Last night I cooked all the batter (eating one or two pancakes along the way, for quality control). Today I had two of them for lunch, with a side of rice and lentils, topped with applesauce and some strawberry yogurt. Very satisfying, if I do say so myself, right? Of course I do.