The Big Purple Pancake!
by amy – October 13, 2015 in Cooking
This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting for.
Welcome… to The Big Purple Pancake.
So there I was. It was late, late morning. Other people were way past their morning coffee and muffins, pastries, porridge, whatever it is that you people eat for breakfast. But not I. I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours. I was skeletal, not to mention hungry. Hungry as hell. I needed a meal that was more like brunch.
This pancake recipe was born out of a hunger for pancakes, no doubt about it. But it was also born out of a need for feeding quickly, without any fuss, prep or to-do. There was no need, under these dire circumstances, to make several little pancakes, as cute as they may have been. And there was no desire or need to measure any of the ingredients. And thus, it was born…
The No-Measure Pancake.
I could have called this the No-Measure Pancake Recipe, because this is really a lesson about throwing away your recipe for making pancakes. That’s right. If you thought I was going to give you a step-by-step formula for The Big Purple Pancake, you would have been sorely mistaken. This pancake is wild and free. And it’s big. Nobody knows how big. It defies tradition, formulas, and measurements. You cannot measure this pancake. Nay; it knows no limits. No bounds.
So get ready to throw your measuring cups and measuring spoons to the wind (or, back in the drawer). This is the time to fly free; this is the time to let go and just wing it. Never fear. I promise you the satisfaction of a newfound liberty in cooking. Pancakes, that is. And maybe other things, too. Let’s begin.
Preparing blueberries and (oh my!) blueberry syrup
Pour some frozen blueberries into a pot with a spoonful of water and turn the heat to medium. You don’t need to add much water at all, because the blueberries will release plenty of water as they start melting. Toss a handful of sugar on them. See the frosty appearance of the berries in the photo? That’s sugar, not frost. You don’t need a lot of sugar either, because blueberries are naturally sweet. And remember, maple syrup will be showing up later at the party, at which point regular old cane sugar becomes, for lack of a better word, inconsequential. Irrelevant. Anyway, you want the blueberries to simmer in a lively way while you’re preparing the batter in the steps below, so keep an eye on them to make sure they’re doing that.
Melting the butter
Put a dollop of butter in your pan and turn on the heat low. Try to aim for what looks like 2 tablespoons, but remember, no measuring! There’s no need to be precise. Most of this butter will go into your pancake batter; the rest will coat your cast iron skillet, or whatever frying pan you’re using. By melting the butter right in the pan you will be cooking in, you will grease your pan and thereby kill two birds with one stone. See how easy and fun this is, already?
The pancake batter
Pour a generous amount of flour into a medium mixing bowl. A nice little pile. Think of how much you can fit into your stomach. Or how much will make a nice thick layer in your pan. This will be the size of your single, glorious pancake. Again, no need to be precise. If you make too much, you can always save the extra batter for a pancake snack later.
You’ll notice I’m using self-raising flour here. I conveniently happened to have this on hand. If you are using regular flour, add in a teaspoon of baking powder – even a heaping teaspoon if you’re feeling like an extra fluffy pancake. (You don’t need special measuring spoons to measure a teaspoon; a regular teaspoon works just fine). Again, don’t worry about being imprecise. Nothing is going to explode if you put in a little less or a little more. It’s really hard to mess up pancake batter unless you put in unorthodox ingredients. The liberating feeling of leaving your measuring spoons out of this affair is worth the risk.
Yo, Gurt. And you, Egg.
You can always add yogurt to your pancake for an energy boost. Some good old protein and fat to give you fuel and make your pancake even more delicious. The egg is a necessary binder and hey, more protein! Add a dash of salt too. Salt is always called for in baking (sweet or savory baking) because, chemically speaking, it strengthens the gluten and makes doughy things hold together better. It’s also a great way to take the bland edge off of plain flour and “wake up the flavor,” as Shauna Sever explains in her post all about salt. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon. You’ll have a clumpy, thick mass when you’re done, which means it’s time for milk…
Check on your blueberries to make sure they’re simmering away in a pool of their own juices!
Milk and butter make your batter better
Now add enough milk to make your batter thick and creamy, to roughly match the consistency shown in the photo. I tend to switch to a whisk at this point to help blend the ingredients better and make a uniform consistency. If you go overboard with the milk and you find your batter too liquidy or runny, you can always add in some more flour to thicken it again. Then again, some people like their batter to be a little on the runnier side, so that it pours instead of oozes off your spoon. No harm in that either. Whatever blows your hair back. Just make sure it’s not too runny.
Your butter should be melted by now, so dump all of it directly from your pan into your batter. No spatula is required; the coating of butter in your pan will be needed to fry your pancake. Turn up the heat to medium to prepare your pan to receive the batter with a sizzle.
Now for the final step to complete your batter, and turn it a lovely lavender color (not exactly purple purple as one would hope for, but hey, it’s still kinda purple). Your blueberries should be simmering happily away in their own beautiful reddish purplish juices. Take a large spoon and scoop some of them into your batter. Don’t take too much liquid with them; the water will ruin the creamy goodness of your batter. (Milk, cream or yogurt are the only liquidy things you should combine with flour to make pancake batter. Their complex makeup of fats, proteins and sugars cannot be substituted for water. Water is bad for batter!)
Batter at the ready
Here’s a picture of the batter again after the berries have been added. This is to show the consistency again. And the beautiful lavender hue. Nice and thick!
Pour the batter into the hot, buttered frypan or skillet. I have a 8 or 9-inch skillet, which happens to be the perfect size to accommodate all the batter, and make a pancake big enough to satiate my voracious appetite. It should start sizzling on contact, which means your heat is at a good level. Leave it alone until bubbles form all over the surface. Once you see bubbles near the edges, you know it has solidified enough on the bottom so that it won’t fall apart when you flip it. Use a big spatula for flipping, one that you can slide under the pancake far enough to get good coverage. Then flip it!
Blueberry Syrup and a Big Purple Pancake
Let your pancake cook just a minute or 2 after flipping, because it doesn’t take long. The process of batter turning into a light, fluffy delicious cake is always magical to me. How does it do that? Ah, the wonders of chemistry and kitchen alchemy.
To make blueberry syrup, strain off the juices from your blueberry pan into a little pitcher or cup, and pour in maple syrup in equal or greater amount to the juice. I go for a greater amount (a steep syrup-to-juice ratio) in order to have a nice thick sryup that isn’t too watery. Use a fork to mix them rigorously together, and lo…blueberry sryup!
Of course, you are now invited to dump more blueberries onto your Big Purple Pancake, and pour blueberry syrup liberally over the whole thing. Grab a cup of orange juice, fork and knife, and dig in!
The Big Purple Pancake in all its glory…