I decided to try making Barbie’s apple pancakes even though I usually avoid recipes that call for baking powder. I prefer recipes that read as nice suggestions rather than precise instructions, and the inclusion of baking powder in an ingredients list sends up a warning that I am dealing with the latter. But I had apples, and pancakes are tasty, so for this week’s Barbie experiment, chunky apple pancakes it was.
Chunky Apple Pancakes
- 1 cup flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces
Sift and then measure the flour. Add baking powder, sugar, and salt. Sift mixture again into a large bowl.
Chop the apple and set aside. Melt the butter (I used the microwave) and set it aside to cool.
Beat the egg with a fork. Add milk to the beaten egg and stir until just mixed.
Add the milk and egg mixture slowly to the flour mixture, stirring to remove any lumps. Add the cooled melted butter followed by the chopped apple. Mix well.
Heat an electric griddle to about 370 (see note) and grease it well with butter (see other note). Drop batter by the tablespoonful onto the griddle. When the batter bubbles in the middle and the bubbles stay, turn the pancake and cook until just long enough for the other side to brown. Serve immediately with butter and syrup.
Serves 4 or 5 (or 6 or 7. This recipe makes a lot of pancakes.)
-Adapted from Barbie’s Easy-As-Pie Cookbook
One of the random pieces of information I’ve carried throughout my life is the “rule” that a pancake is ready to flip when the bubbles in the middle stay. I’m pretty sure I learned this from my mom, but while making the apple pancakes, I was nagged by a vague and persistent memory that this advice had been confirmed by none other than Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books in the scene where Ramona’s mom hits her dad with the pancake turner.
That memory kept singing “hey pay attention to me I’m important!” at the front of my brain, to the point where I finally found an ebook of Ramona and Her Mother and read to confirm. The chapter unfolded exactly as I remembered: the unplugged crockpot, the almost empty fridge, the parents’ bickering over the merits of their respective grandmothers, and then…
“Are you sure those pancakes are done?” asked Mr. Quimby as his wife slid the pancake turner under them.
“They bubbled in the middle before I turned them,” said Mrs. Quimby, “and they look done to me.”
The pancakes, unfortunately, are not done, and the elder Quimbys’ quarrel goes on, leading Ramona and her big sister Beezus to lie awake at night worrying that they might get divorced, and then to wake up the next morning and lecture them on how grown ups shouldn’t argue and … man I loved these books. Wow.
Rereading this chapter, I conclude that Mrs. Quimby’s error was in waiting only for the bubbles and not the bubbles that stay. If the bubbles pop and disappear, don’t turn your pancake yet. Wait until they stick around without popping, and you’ll save yourself a lot of angst.
- You can use a skillet set to medium high heat on the stovetop if you don’t have one, but pancakes are one of those recipes that it is just really nice to have an electric griddle for. Being able to bang out six at a time makes pancake cooking go much faster, which makes it easier for everyone to get warm pancakes at the same time.
- If your skillet or griddle is nonstick, I guess you don’t need butter (and on a griddle, it’s kind of messy), but butter is delicious, so you should use it anyway. Watch the temperature of your cooking surface so that it doesn’t burn.
- I don’t think I’ve sifted flour since middle school Home Ec. I am not sure how necessary the sifting step was, but it was really fun. I used a mesh strainer.
- If you’re transferring to a new phone and wiping your old one to give it away, and you get to the point where you’re like “Whatever. I don’t need anything else from this old thing.” Make 100% sure that you aren’t deleting all of your apple pancake pictures for your blog along with the rest of the stuff. I’m just saying.
- My niece said “pamcake” when she was a toddler, and this pronunciation has stuck around in our family vocabulary even though said niece is taller than me now, slouching around in leggings, flannel, and 21 Pilots Shirts. This has nothing to do with cooking apple pancakes, but it feels like an important note.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever made pancakes from Not-A-Mix before. It’s one of those things that everyone says is not hard though, and if my success is any indication, I’d have to agree. Apple pancakes are good and not hard to make. All of the ingredients are likely to be in your pantry, and the batter is really easy to throw together. That said, I will halve the recipe the next time I make this because it really did make a ton of pancakes. I’m also probably going to reread the entire Ramona series, an unexpected but entirely enjoyable side-effect of pancake baking.