Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pan-griddle-flap-jack-cakes and Liquid Gold from Lake George

Always make pancakes in a cast-iron pan. No exceptions.
Call them what you will, they are all pretty much a flat cake made of a batter consisting of more or less equal parts flour, milk and eggs (with a touch of baking powder for lift, or baking soda if working with buttermilk).

Double-checking the lazywebs, I am vindicated on that ratio. I stopped measuring ingredients for pancakes long ago. This was the first food I learned to make on my own, and I have been cooking pancakes for decades.

The batter is right when it feels right. Up the flour and the baking soda if you prefer a fluffier pancake, up the milk if you want a moister pancake. More eggs will give your batter more structure. Use two eggs and one additional yolk to make the pancakes richer.

To get a consistent size, use a 1/4 cup measure to pour out batter, or a 2oz ladle.

Always use a cast-iron pan - I use my Lodge #9.

Avoid the "first pancake" syndrome by frying bacon up in the pan first (when your first pancake comes out either too burnt or underdone because the temperature is not right on the pan).

If you can, use duck or bacon fat to grease the pan, lightly.
 
Jar of liquid gold. And bacon.
Pancake Batter:
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour (use cake flour for lighter pancakes)
  • 2 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder (use baking soda if making buttermilk)
Of course, a truly great pancake deserves a truly great maple syrup.

Not everyone has the opportunity to get as close to the source of the syrup as I have, however.

One might think that just because the maker is my first cousin, Sam, that I am giving preferential treatment to his syrup, branded "Bixby's Best" (sold almost exclusively in the New York State area).

It is in fact the best syrup I've ever had. Take that, Montreal Maple Mafia!

The "sugaring" process begins in the dead of winter, just before Springtime. Hundreds, if not thousands, of maple trees are tapped over many acres of pristine Adirondack forrest. The sap is collected and then boiled for dozens of hours in sugar shacks with wood-fired boiling pots, all constructed by hand by my cousin, his brother and father (Uncle Stretch).

The resulting product is graded by color and flavor. Most of Sam's syrup is Grade A "Amber" or Grade A "Dark Amber".

Both products are excellent for pancakes. And pork chop marinades. And for dipping bacon strips. And coffee. And endless other applications.

Sunrise over Lake George, Bolton Landing, NY
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Contact: Sam Caldwell
(518) 636 9792
bixbysbest@gmail.com