Cooking on the Cheap: Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes

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February 1, 2010 by skwishface

So it was a gloomy Sunday morning, and I was hungover.

Not from drinking heavily the night before. Oh no. We had a birthday party for my three-year-old nephew on Saturday.  If you’ve never been through a three-year-old’s birthday party – with the heaps of sugar and the running around and the managing preschoolers (which is exactly – exactly – like herding drunkards) and the manic frivolity and the off-key singing – then you don’t know where I’ve been, man. You just don’t know.

Or maybe you’ve been 21 and have ever had a drink with friends at any time ever. In which case you pretty much do know. The end result is the same, only in my case there’s more half-deflated balloon animals involved.

But I digress. The point is I felt like hammered poo and needed some comfort food. I took stock in my kitchen and realized that The Husband had done the grocery shopping the day before and obtained a large bag of adorable little apples and a free box of pancake mix.

Oh, it was on. It was on like Donkey Kong.

Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes
1 batch box-mix pancake batter, prepared per the instructions
OR (3 cups flour, 2 tbsp baking soda, 2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 eggs, 2 cups milk)
2-3 apples, cored/peeled/sliced
2+ tbsps cinnamon
2+ tsps vanilla extract

Yes, I’m a big cheater. I used the box mix. But ya know what? It was free. If I hadn’t had the box mix, I would’ve used the from-scratch recipe up there. But c’mon man! Free box mix! It’d be a crime NOT to use it.

Not only is it free, it's also generic! The caffeine, however, is neither.

Regular old pancakes, while marvelous on their own, are about to get whole heckuva lot more magnificent. We begin with the deconstruction of the apples. They’ll need to fit easily into a pancake without any pesky skin or core to disrupt the fine fluffy fruitiness of the experience. But I don’t want chunks. I want rings.

And what I wants ....

... I gets!

Side note: karma, in my kitchen, is instant. I start strutting around making demands like “I want apple rings!”, and immediately my apple corer/veggie peeler will disappear. Had to do it all with a paring knife. It’s a miracle I still have fingers.

My kitchen likes to keep me humble.

Apples prepped, band-aids applied as needed, we turn our attention to the pancake mix. The Husband tried to tell me that he’s “not a big fan” of pancakes. They’re bland, he says. Well! Maybe at IHOP they are! But that’s just because chain restaurants don’t take the time to turn their mix into a the cataclysmic flavor eruption of Mt. Pancake.

The first tremors were the only warning the townsfolk would get.

Seriously. If you’re not adding vanilla and cinnamon, you might as well be eating warm Wonderbread. The difference is flavor. Even The Husband had to agree.

Now, to cook up these pancakes you need a hot flat surface. Anything will do. Pots, pans, skillets, whatever you have as long as it’s clean. Back in college, a roommate and I once made pancakes on a disposable pizza pan that we set on the stove. The pan was useless afterwards, but we had pancakes. Our priorities were in order.

I just happen to have a cast iron grill pan that has a reversible griddle side. Is it sexy?

Naw, it's not sexy...... It's HOT!

See what I did there? I both made a pun and demonstrated that my griddle is ready by splashing water on it and watching said water sizzle! Gosh, I amuse me!

Ahem.

Whatever you’re using, you want it on medium to medium-high heat. The idea is to cook the pancakes through without burning them. This may take some trial and error. I recommend making a few plain test pancakes first, to make sure the temperature is right. Also, to snack on while you make the apple pancakes.

Which is done thusly!

Dunk an apple ring in the pancake batter.

Turn it over a few times to get it nicely coated.

Place on a buttered-up griddle. Dab a little more batter on top until you reach your desired apple-to-cake ratio.

When the edges start to look dry and bubbly, flip 'em!

Once they’re done, move them to a plate. Put a pat of butter on each one while it’s still hot, and stack ’em high. This ensures that they stay warm and have buttery goodness throughout. (hint: the pancakes in the middle of the stack are best – they’re getting butter from both sides) The batter should be firm and not shiny anywhere along the edges. Your apple rings will be softened by the cooking, but still with a little bit of crunch to them, floating around in all that warm vanilla-y cinnamon-y cake.

It won’t take long to get into a rhythm of dip/pour/flip. You’ll be rockin’ it like clockwork in no time! One word of caution, though: pancakes is messy business. Batter will get everywhere.

Half my kitchen looks exactly like this.

Don’t sweat it. You can always clean it up later. In the meantime, you really should just sit down and enjoy the fluffy fruits of your labors. With butter and syrup.

Hangover status: cured!

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