A batch of these is a great way to spin a strong dose of whole grains into a get-out-of-bed treat to kick-start a nutritious day.
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1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat, grain or almond flour
1 cup oatmeal flakes
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk or water
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs, or 4 for added richness
1 teaspoon or more of pure
A preheated pan is the first secret to pancake perfection. While you mix the batter, preheat your largest, heaviest skillet over your sweet spot, the medium to medium-high heat that gives the batter time to cook through while the surface browns. Your pan is at the perfect temperature when a few scattered water drops dance on it (just right) without evaporating (too hot) or just pooling and simmering (too cool).
Whisk together the dry ingredients to distribute the fine powders evenly among the coarser ones.
Whisk together the wet ingredients and then pour them into the bowl of dry ingredients. Lose the whisk and grab a wooden spoon so it won't clog in the batter. Stir the batter until it is smooth, but don't overmix.
Because the batter has very little refined white flour in it, it can take lots of stirring without "toughening." White flours are high in gluten, which gives bread dough strength but toughens muffins, cakes and pancakes. Oatmeal, almond and other grain flours don't contain gluten and are ground fine enough to support the batter. They're also great for adding extra flavour, richness and nutrition.
Spoon the batter into the preheated pan, evenly filling it with a lot of little pancakes or a few large ones. Smaller ones are easier to flip and to pass out to a hungry crowd.
Watch for bubbles. As the batter heats through, the baking powder will activate and release leavening bubbles that rise to the surface. Keep an eye on them. At first, they'll burst and disappear, but as the batter cooks through they'll leave behind a telltale hole.
When the pancakes are evenly covered here and there with holes, it's time to flip. Because the batter is heated through, and the first side is already browned, the second side cooks faster.
You can get ahead of a crowd by stashing a plate full of pancakes in a warm oven. Cover it with a bowl, and they'll stay fresh and warm while you cook more.
The 3 cups of flours and grains can easily be custom-blended. Use any mixture you like as long as it measures 3 cups in total.
You can also use any milk - cow, soy, rice or a blend.
Honey adds lots of complex aromatic flavour, but you can also add 1/2 cup of brown or white sugar to the dry ingredients.
If you like experimenting with spices, you can brand every batch with a new name and a new spice flavour. Simply varying your choice of spice completely changes the flavour of the pancakes. Just for aromatic kicks!
Michael Smith is the host of the Food Network's Chef at Home, Chef at Large and The Inn Chef.