I think it's the nostalgia factor. Pancakes were a staple at the breakfast table on weekends, when my father would churn out a batch of his signature Yogurt Pancakes. His pancakes were perfect golden circles, each one light and fluffy and delicately flavoured with a little almond extract and vanilla. We'd devour them as quickly as he could make them.
Pancakes were also ever-present after sleepovers at my aunt's house, when my cousin (who has always seemed to be a million times more mature and sophisticated that me, what with her extra fifteen months of life experience) would whip up a bowl of pancake batter without a recipe. Having been taught that cooking should never be done without carefully following a recipe, her ability to mix together just the right ratio of ingredients was downright magical. Once the pancakes had been gobbled down, we'd spend the rest of the morning crashed out on the rabbit fur carpet in the basement, watching our favourite Saturday morning shows (Muppet Babies, anyone?) or movies like Ernest Goes to Camp on the VHS player (which I'm pretty sure we must have watched at least 200 times).
They were a lifesaver for summertime camping trips, when many days started off with a fresh batch of pancakes prepared from just-add-water mix - much beloved due to its exceedingly portable format and its ability to be prepared anywhere where a campfire and potable water are available. On a cold and misty morning, a pile of pancakes drenched in syrup on a battered enameled plate is like manna from heaven, even if they aren't made from scratch.
Once I'd moved away from home and into university residence, pancakes were a tradition on sleepy weekend mornings (or rather... afternoons, since being up and about before noon was strictly reserved for class and/or work days). My little residence kitchen was very well equipped, but it did have all the necessities for pancakes - a mixing bowl, a whisk and a small frying pan. There was no spatula, though, so I learned to flip my pancakes by throwing them up into the air with a quick twist of the wrist, a neat little trick that impressed my roommates to no end.
The appeal lies in the fact that the basic recipe is so simple - flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk and oil. And yet, that one basic recipe can be elaborated into an endless number of variations, like banana or gingerbread or even red velvet and cream cheese... or these fluffy little cakes, which started off life as my father's recipe, but then got up with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream like a classic strawberry shortcake.
I guess that's what I like best about pancakes. In the end, no matter how far you stray from the basic recipe, they're still dad's famous Yogurt Pancakes at heart - straightforward, uncomplicated, and delicious with a drizzle of maple syrup.
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
- ⅔ cup milk
- 2 tbsp melted butter (plus more for the griddle)
- ½ tsp each vanilla and almond extract
- 1 cup finely diced strawberries
- Whipped cream
- Chopped strawberries
- Maple syrup
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk, melted butter and extracts until combined. Pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth and lump-free.
- Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Grease lightly with butter. When the butter starts to sizzle, drop in ¼ cup portions of batter.
- Dot the surface of the pancakes with chopped strawberries. Cook for about 2 minutes or until a few bubbles start to form on the top, then gently flip over and continue cooking until underside is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes longer. Transfer the finished pancakes to a baking tray in a warm oven. Repeat this process until the batter is finished, re-greasing the pan as needed.
- To serve, stack two or three pancakes onto each plate. Garnish each stack with a spoonful of chopped strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. For those with a sweet tooth, drizzle with a little maple syrup or dust with icing sugar before digging in.