we once were pancakes

March 5, 2010

Recently, I’ve had a thing about pancakes.

Well no, these aren’t exactly pancakes. Or pikelets. Pankelets. Pikecakes. (You’ll see why they look like muffins in a minute). But they’re basic panpikelet batter.

Mmmm, pancakes.

I don’t know how many batches I’ve made in the last month. Six? Ten? They’re the easiest thing to whip up and ridiculously versatile, and now that I’ve gone vaguely nocturnal, they’re the most filling substance around for my evening-breakfasts/4am belly-fillers. They’re insanely good. I’ve had them multiple times with generous amounts of melting butter, maple-flavoured syrup and secateured* banana; savoury with homemade garlic-and-rosemary butter and eaten with green thai curry tunafish; griddled normally and sprinkled with blueberries mid-cooking**, and memorably, glowingly pink and heart-shaped with icing-sugar and bananas arranged in a pretty motif.***

I have explored the realm of the pikencake thoroughly, if briefly. It’s gotten to the point where I have enough dry ingredients for one batch stored in a bottle, ready for a beaten egg and 3/4 cup of milk.

So, being hungry at 9:26pm this evening, I’ve decided to subvert the pikelake once more. My current version of the recipe is an amalgamation of the Pikelet and Pancake recipes from the all-purpose Edmonds’ Cookbook, and goes like this:

Ingredients:
– 1 cup self-raising flour
– 1/4 cup sugar (or less, if foreseeing savoury pankelets on the horizon)
– 1 dash of salt
– 1 beaten egg
– 3/4 cup milk (roughly, depending on the consistency you want)
– optional spices such as cinnamon, tarragon, basil or ginger.

Method:
1. sift dry ingredients together.
2. beat egg into mix. add milk slowly. attempt to remove lumps with fork and/or large spatula.
3. fry on hot, lightly-buttered pan.
4.eat warm with evident relish and enormous lashings of butter, whether savoury or otherwise.
5. cry over inability to fit into jeans.

Now I read somewhere that pikelets are basically a fried form of bread, and on doing a little googling, it turns out they’re also called ‘drop scones’. This makes me want to know what would happen if it was poured into a tin like cake batter and baked. Texture? Consistency? Taste, for goodness sake? How much does a pikelet recipe differ from cake? Not that much, surely. The only ingrediential difference seems to be the addition of oil or butter during the process rather than after.

This calls for an experiment.

 This is a bottle of the dry ingredients for pikeletcake. Pikecake. Pankelet.

This is inside the bottle of dry ingredients,with wet ingredients added (one beaten egg, about half a cup of milk so far).

Much shaking then occurred, which resulted in a relatively smooth batter. Surprisingly enough.

… well, I did say relatively. Smoother than I usually get it with my shoddy stirring, anyhow.

Okay. So. I got out my trusty silicon-rubber muffintin, and filled each little cuplet with glorious, glorious nectar of the baking gods. Then I got out the following items:

one (1) jar of homemade plum jam,
one (1) jar of homemade apple butter in a cranberry jamjar, and
one (1) half-full bottle of extra virgin olive oil.

These were added to the cuplets in varying amounts. Like so:

This may require a key. And in two parts, methinks. Columns are A, B, C & D and rows 1 through 3. Maths and grids and so forth were never my strong point, so bear with me. I swear I can’t mess up with only a 3×4 grid.

Part 1:

Absurdity Cuplet A1: one tsp of apple butter in the middle of the batter.

Absurdity Cuplet B1: one tsp of apple butter on the bottom, covered with batter.

Absurdity Cuplet A2: one dash of olive oil floating on top of the batter plus a drop of jam.

Absurdity Cuplet B2: jam sandwich! two tsps batter, one tsp jam and three more tsps of batter.

Absurdity Cuplet A3:  one tsp of jam and a dash of olive oil mixed thoroughly in.

Absurdity Cuplet B3: bottom two tsps mixed thoroughly with jam and olive oil, topped up with plain batter.

 Absurdity C1: olive oil and apple butter mixed thoroughly in.

Absurdity D1: … um, I ran out of batter. So this is raisins and wine and honey and a little sugar and the apple butter, just to see what happens.

 Absurdity C2: spoonful of plum jam dropped in.

Absurdity D2: control muffinlet! nothing whatsoever in its little cupful.

 Absurdity C3: olive oil mixed into the bottom tsp of batter, topped up with plain.

Absurdity D3: olive oil mixed in thoroughly.

This lot then went into the oven and came out roughly 25 minutes later (with frequent openings of the oven after 15 minutes to check if they were done, alas- I have the patience of a small termagant)- this was the result!

Rather fascinating bunch, really. These are the results:

Part 1:

Absurdity Cuplet A1 (one tsp apple): Hm. Rubbery texture of batter is evident, as seen in the control muffinlet. Apple butter taste is perhaps too strong- I mix it into other things rather than using it as jam because of this, and it seems the spices are rather too- er, spicy, for this. Batter is soft and soggy just underneath where the applebutter sits but otherwise has a fairly even cooked texture.

Absurdity Cuplet B1 (apple butter on the bottom): created a hollowed-out comb from the bottom up. Similar to A1 except muffin texture is less almost-baked thick-mush and more pikelet-rubbery. A little like very dense bread.

Absurdity Cuplet A2 (olive oil and jam float): this one amuses me. During baking, it was pretty much frying in a pool of its oils. And you know what? You can taste it, and it tastes a whole lot like normal fried pikelet. Except slightly more solid and doughy, because of course it was fried piled on top of itself rather than spread out and fried-fried.

Absurdity Cuplet B2 (jam sandwich): possibly the most muffin-like muffinlet of the lot. looks quite appealing, actually, with the jam well-encased inside. The texture is still pikeletish (that is to say, a little rubbery, fairly solid, the way a cold pikelet is) but since the majority of the batter was on the top, that’s cooked a lot better and means the absence of half-baked mush on the bottom.

Absurdity Cuplet A3 (jam and olive oil mixed thoroughly): The most naturally brown of the lot, ignoring the brown of the cuplet with apple-butter colouring. There are air-pockets inside and actually a fairly springy texture (good God, I didn’t think that was possible) but the taste of olive oil is fairly strong. The jam only comes in as an afternote. Otherwise, it’s a mix between mushy and solid- but it’s less solid than the others, if more soggy than the control, which other than the rubberiness is quite airy, actually.

Absurdity Cuplet B3 (bottom mixed with jam and oil): fascinating colour difference between the top and bottom layers. There’s a definite difference. Pah, the bottom is soggy and olive-oily, and the top is thick and solid. Not brilliant.

 Absurdity C1 (olive oil and apple butter): actually, the apple butter tastes really good with this. I must use it in baking more often- I think it’s the insane amount of spices I loaded it with. This is very unevenly baked, however- it’s all soggy and flattened. I wonder what would happen if I fried it up? It actually tastes pretty good, but the texture is quite mushy. Like firm banana.

Absurdity D1 (raisins in wine etc.): Yummy. Very sweet. Could be baked into proper muffins without difficulty for pepping things up. Quite strong wine taste.

 Absurdity C2 (with plum jam): I have to say, plum jam makes everything better. The texture is still thoroughly pancakey, but oh, the jam! Delicious. And it hollowed out the inside, too. It’s all a little damp on the inside, alas, so not thoroughly baked.

Absurdity D2 (control muffinlet): Tastes like a pikelet. Vaguely sweet, plain. A little sponge-rubbery like all pikelets are. Otherwise, not bad. This one has the most air in it, actually, and no solid wet sogginess in it whatsoever. I actually attribute the sogginess to the oil, I think.

 Absurdity C3 (bottom of olive oil mix): strong smell of oil. Came out easily, leaving the inside a little oily. Vaguely resembles and inverted pyramid, narrowing significantly at bottom. Texture is way, waaay too solid- a bit like a Chinese turnip-cake, as if no air had been added at all. I blame the oil. The olive taste is very present. Less rubbery than the control.

Absurdity D3 (olive oil thoroughly mixed): came out of the cuppette gently. Much better texture than the control, although still quite solid (methinks I may have shaken/stirred it too much?) and thick. Definite taste of olive oil, but I don’t mind this as much as in some of the others. Doesn’t seem quite cooked on the bottom, which is where the majority of the olive oil was, so obviously a product of inadequate stirring. ‘Thoroughly’ was a misnomer.

.

Well.

I’m sitting here with a plate of cuplets with bits sawn out of them and I have to say, none of them are actually that appetising. I will be rescuing the applebutter mix and the two jam-inside ones for re-heating and re-eatnig with ice-cream, methinks, but the others will probably get fed to something with feathers. Or the bin, either one.

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Moral of this story:

pancakes and pikelets are made to be fried, not baked. This is extremely evident in the consistency of these miniature beasties and the texture. Moreover, apple butter is extremely good when diluted with other substances (like batter) and I will be making use of this from now on! Plum jam is delicious in any state. And finally, olive oil actually only served to make it denser, but perhaps that has to do with needing more time in the oven? Who knows. I may stick some of these in the mini-oven and watch carefully.

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* Not actually a word. ‘Secateurs’ are basically garden shears. I’ve hijacked it here to mean ‘chopped roughly into chunks with hungry abandon’.

** Thoroughly amazing. had it first while camping at free campsite Reid’s Farm, just by the Waikato River. Imagine this- portable gas-cooker at eight in the morning, pale sunlight, damp grass, two tents and six half-awake young adults on the way back from the Southern Hemisphere’s largest music festival. Then, two bottles of ready-made pancake mix (just add water!) in tin cooking pots, and butter. Much butter. Hot griddle, butter, and three plastic punnets of this-season’s blueberries. And enormous amounts of maple-flavoured syrup, of course. Have a photo, because it was just so good.

There’s something about eating and cooking outside that Kiwis have down to a fine art, I think.

*** It was Valentine’s Day. I made the pancakes for several friends and mastered the art of heart-shaped pink perfection while doing so.

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