There really is no such thing as too many pancakes. Whether you’re having them for breakfast or as breakfast-for-dinner, you always should make too many.
Because smart lunch packers know that the best midday meals are built from leftovers. And leftovers from breakfast are just as good as those from dinner.
Pancakes are particularly awesome in this way.
First, it takes the same amount of time to mix a batch of batter for eight pancakes as it does 18. Second, pancakes cook in just minutes, so the extra time at the stove is pretty minimal. Third, spare pancakes freeze well, so you can have them on hand for days or weeks to come.
Finally — and most importantly — pancakes are incredibly versatile. Sure, they are great drizzled with syrup. But that’s just the start. They also make a great alternative to traditional bread.
But first, the basics. You need a recipe for good, wholesome pancakes, and I’ve got you covered. This recipe is simple, delicious and — for your convenience – already doubled. It makes roughly 20 pancakes. Perfect for breakfast, plus plenty of leftovers.
I like to use white whole-wheat flour in my pancakes. It has the same nutrition as regular whole-wheat flour, but with the lighter texture, color and taste of all-purpose. You’ll find it alongside the other flours in the grocer’s baking aisle. But this recipe works with white flour, too.
- 2 cups white whole-wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
In a large a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then stir until thoroughly blended.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium. When the pan is hot, add the batter in ¼ cup portions, leaving room for the pancakes to spread.
Cook the pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and brown on the second side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Now that you’ve got your pancakes, here’s what you do with them. Aside from eat them for breakfast, of course. Start by freezing the extras. I usually pack two or three per plastic zip-close bag, being sure to press out as much air as possible. Just be sure to let the pancakes cool completely before bagging and freezing.
The most obvious way to pack them is straight up. So long as you have a wide-mouth thermos, all you need to do is nuke them until piping hot, pop them in the thermos, and add a container of syrup on the side. Talk about a comfort food lunch you can feel good about!
But it’s just as easy to get creative. I like to use pancakes in place of bread for my son’s favorite sandwiches. Peanut butter and jelly is a no-brainer. But he thinks cream cheese and strawberry jam is ever better. And don’t even get me started about Nutella.
For sandwiches like those, you don’t even need to thaw the pancakes. Just slap them together while frozen, then pack them. They’ll thaw by lunch (and help keep the rest of the meal cool).
I also use pancakes for grilled sandwiches, everything from a basic grilled American cheese to a more elaborate ham and cheddar. And if you want to really blow them away at the lunch table, slap some turkey breast, Swiss cheese and a dollop of cranberry sauce between pancakes. Serve as is or grilled.
Because most pancake recipes (including mine) aren’t particularly sweet, they work well with all sorts of savory foods. Pack a thermos full of warm chili with some pancakes on the side. At lunch, spoon chili onto a pancake and eat it taco-style.
J.M. Hirsch is the national food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs about the trials and tribulations of his son’s lunches at LunchBoxBlues.com. His upcoming cookbook, Beating the Lunch Box Blues, will be the first to be released by Rachael’s new publishing venture, Rachael Ray Books. Hirsch’s previous books include High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking and Venturesome Vegan Cooking. He lives in New Hampshire with his son, wife, and too many cats.