Alright, friend, I'll confess.
Until about age 13, the only thing I could make with any real success (or initiative) was pancakes. Sometimes I'd get all crazy and go out on a limb to make those suckers waffles or top them with a strawberry, but let’s be honest, that really put the cap on my culinary prowess.
I remember my sisters teasing me about it and I'd feel vaguely guilty that I hadn't mastered anything more complex, but honestly with pancakes that good it was hard to feel any real remorse - or motivation to look elsewhere.
So, dear reader, imagine my vindication when years later we were playing a game at my bridal shower (the kind where you have a list of pre-answered questions and have to figure out what the other person said) and the question "What is your favorite food?" was the next in line. And my dear, wonderful now-husband had answered that gem with an exuberant "Whitney's waffles!"
I rest my case.
But really, these pancakes have ruined me for eating brunch at all but a handful of places. They have that perfect soft, fluffy texture without running into the crumbliness you often find in the standard big fluffy ones. And as waffles... well, I don't really know how to describe those to you other than to just send you to the recipe. I feel like it's a miracle if the waffles make it all the way to the plate before I've casually nibbled my way through several.
I have so many memories of sitting at our old mustard yellow kitchen table with my sisters while my mom cranked these out by the dozen on the electric skillet. My sister and I were talking awhile back about how we used to compete over who could eat the most pancakes in one sitting and we both thought we had to be wrong about the number. But it's what we both remembered, so twelve pancakes really must have been a regular thing. To be fair, mom knew we were competing and made little silver dollar versions to save us from our own gluttony. But still. Twelve pancakes, guys. Each.
The key to these is being sure you beat the egg whites to a stiff peak and fold them in carefully to retain the air. Growing up we would typically only beat the egg whites when using the batter for waffles, but I've found I really like it in the pancake iteration as well. I remember visiting Aaron's parents early on when we were dating and hearing him tell his mom about these waffles. I couldn't stop laughing because he just kept repeating the part about the egg whites. "She beats the egg whites! I think that's what does it. Seriously, it's the egg whites. Have you ever seen someone do it that way before? It's amazing. You have to try these waffles."
Did I mention he loves these?
Enough preamble. Let's make some pancakes!
the only (Pancake/Waffle) recipe you need
3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup oil/melted butter
3 cups milk
To begin, add all the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to a medium/large mixing bowl and stir to combine them thoroughly.
Once the dry ingredients are combined, add the milk, oil or butter, and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix well.
Separate the egg whites into their own mixing bowl and add the yolks to the batter, mixing well to combine.
Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they form very stiff peaks. Gently fold these into the batter until just combined.
To make pancakes:
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. When the pan has warmed, spray or brush it with oil (butter would also work here). Typically I ladle approximately ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. This makes a small to medium pancake and lets me eat several. (There's something blissfully indulgent about piling multiple pancakes on one's plate...) Cook until bubbles begin to form and pop on the top side of the cake or until the bottom begins to turn golden brown. Carefully flip each pancake and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
To make waffles:
Heat your waffle iron to whatever setting matches your desired waffle-doneness. Spray or brush the griddles with oil/butter and ladle approximately ¼ cup of batter per waffle square. When it ceases to emit steam from the waffle iron (or when your timer machine's timer goes off) the waffle should be done. Sometimes I check it slightly earlier and flip the waffle to ensure it browns at the same rate on each side, but mostly that's just due to the endearing quirks of my own iron.
Serve topped with pure maple syrup, pureed fresh strawberries and whipped cream, Nutella, or whatever other garnishes your heart might fancy. (I'm currently obsessed with Trader Joe's seasonal Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup.)