The pancake labors under the burden of stereotype: flat. Which isn’t nice. Just as the bold sheep may resent “sheepish,” and the strident cow may balk at “cowed,” so the pancake cringes at any sentence that starts “flat as a.” Everyone knows what comes next.
It’s also unfair. Perhaps the crepe and blintz, European imports, cling to the pan paper-thin. But the hometown griddlecake, johnnycake or flapjack takes pride in its light, tender bite.
Such delicate texture can be achieved via whipped eggs, baking powder or baking soda. Plus, on occasion, a lift assist from seltzer. The fizzy water releases an army of tiny bubbles who stride through the batter, creating cakes that are – within the confines of the pancake worldview – towering.
Yield: Makes about 12 (4-inch) pancakes
Prep: 15 minutes / Wait: overnight / Cook: 4 minutes per batch
Inspired by Salt’s Cure in Los Angeles.
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons (solid) coconut oil (or substitute unsalted butter)
1 cup water
Plain seltzer water
Cinnamon butter, see recipe
Pulse: Measure 1 cup rolled oats into the food processor. Measure in flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Pulse, grinding oats to a powder. Drop in coconut oil; pulse a few times, breaking oil to bits.
Mix: In a large bowl, whisk together egg and the 1 cup water. Sprinkle in remaining 1/2 cup oats and the flour mixture. Mix with a fork just to combine.
Chill: Cover and chill 1 hour or, better yet, overnight.
Crisp: Stir in as much seltzer as needed to make a thick, pourable batter. Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium. Slick with a little canola oil. Mindful that the first pancake is always a fail, ladle on a scant 1/4 cup batter; nudge into a 3- or 4-inch pancake. Cook until edges are crisp and bubbles dot the cake all the way across, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Repeat, adding oil as needed (it ensures crisp edges), using all the batter. Top each with cinnamon butter. Serve hot.
Cinnamon butter: Stir together 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon; mash into 4 tablespoons room-temperature salted butter.