Breakfast factors in all our weekend plans. We happily travel for a great skillet of spicy eggs, tower of golden pancakes, platter of inventive French toast. I have my favorite spots all over the city.
But, really, our favorite spot for a great breakfast with friends is the kitchen table. The whole family enjoys cooking together to start the day right. It’s even better when weekend guests join in the fun.
More often than not, we start with a recipe that ran in the 1980s in the Chicago Tribune. It’s more of a custardy, caramely fruit pancake than a traditional cakey pancake. We’ve personalized it over the years, sometimes using pumpkin pie spice in place of cinnamon, and upgrading the apples to our new favorites: Honeycrisp and SweeTango. Most times, we double the recipe to make four pancakes to serve company. Leftovers reheat beautifully.
Our berry pancakes prove more traditional. Using frozen berries makes them a year-round favorite. Enjoying a plate of warm berry pancakes topped with a berry syrup in January just feels like a taste of warmer days ahead. I buy two bags of individually frozen mixed berries. One bag gets added to a pancake batter made with some nutty whole wheat flour, and the other bag makes a lovely berry syrup.
To save time in the morning, I like to measure out all the dry ingredients for the berry pancakes ahead of time and then keep them in a container. It’s as handy as a store-bought pancake mix and much better tasting. Be sure to use precise measurements on the baking powder so the pancakes don’t sport a metallic taste from too much baking powder — a common problem in many fast-food restaurant pancakes and packaged mixes. To cook, simply add the fresh ingredients.
I use a large wire cooling rack set over a baking sheet in a low oven to allow me to make enough pancakes in advance so all the guests can eat together. Of course, you can skip this step and serve the pancakes as they are ready. The recipe makes quite a few pancakes — but leftovers reheat beautifully and take the sting out of any workday morning.
Brown sugar and curried glazed sliced ham or Canadian bacon make an intriguing savory breakfast meat to accompany either of these pancakes.
Both of these pancake recipes might seem like a lot of work because of all the directions, but I am trying to guide you through to foolproof pancakes, so you and your company can taste the pleasure of homemade breakfast.