Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cuban Pancakes?

A typical Saturday morning consists of my daughter calling me, from her room, at around 7 a.m. asking if it’s too early for her to be awake.
My answer, every time, is a big, "Yes".
She runs to my bed anyways and asks me for homemade pancakes. Not just any homemade pancakes, but Guy Fieri pancakes.
You see, last year, we went to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Fun & Fit as a Family weekend at Jungle Island where she got a chance to see her first live chef in action. It was Guy Fieri and he was making colorful pancakes with kids.
My husband, the super-project dad he is showed her how to make colorful pancakes at home with a little food coloring and pancake batter. And why not? It’s fun.
So this Saturday, not unlike the other Saturdays, she’s working me for colorful pancakes. I respond that we won’t make colorful pancakes today, but we will make homemade pancakes.
I thought I remembered that Nitza had a recipe for pancakes.

Recipe #536: Pancakes y Hotcakes (Arepas)

pancakes ingredients
When I found the recipe, I was a little hesitant. Pancakes and Hotcakes, ok. But Arepas, in parenthesis? Why? Arepas we know here in Miami have no resemblance to pancakes and hotcakes. They’re thicker, and well, they’re filled with cheese, but they’re made with corn. No entiendo (I don’t understand).
I digress – back to the recipe and the cooking session with my four year old, wide awake and fully rested.
The recipe is really easy – you sift flour, polvo Royal (yeah baby, I know that’s double action baking powder, cut in half!), sugar and salt. Then, you beat an egg with milk and melted butter. You add wet to the dry and mix it all well.
wet to dry
Cuban pancakes are no different in the making than American pancakes (they’re probably not American, so anyone, please feel free to let me know the origin of a pancake). Drop by the spoonfuls or ladlefuls into a hot, greased griddle and flip when you see the bubbles.
Well, apparently, there is a difference. Cuban pancakes don’t seem to like to conform to the usual round pancake form. These pancakes were drooping and running downwards like if they wanted to form a bell-shape. It was very odd.
runny bells
And, these pancakes weren’t browning up at first. The first batch looked like a pasty-white bell. It was icky.
albino pancakes
After the second run, the pancakes started to get a tan and the golden resemblance to a pancake was able to be seen, but it was still very strange.
tanned pancakes
They were thin, like crepe thin, which then made me think that I could use this recipe to make crepes, but I don’t have to unless I want to now that I’m done with this recipe (which, by the way is 55 of 629, but who’s counting).
So, the kids ate the Cuban pancakes, as I will call them because they sure weren’t American (or French, probably real pancakes originated in France. Correct me, people, please), but I’m definitely not recommending this recipe as a way to make pancakes. They tasted ok, but there are better recipes out there.
rauly pancakes
I made real pancakes (down home Southern pancakes) the next weekend, using a 1969 Betty Crocker’s Cookbook recipe. I went all out, actually, and went with a blue colorful pancakes version. The kids were thrilled.
I couldn’t believe how much of a difference there was between the two recipes, using the same ingredients, but there were key differences in the measurements.
Here’s a play by play, using Nitza’s measurements first and then Betty Crocker’s:
1 egg vs 1 egg
1 ¼ cup flour vs 1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon polvos Royal (double action baking powder, so I used ¾ teaspoon) vs 3 teaspoons baking powder – maybe this is the reason??
1 teaspoon sugar vs 1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt vs ½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups milk vs ¾ cups milk – definitely something to do with the runniness here
2 Tablespoons melted butter vs 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
There must be something I’m missing in the conversion of trying to work with the polvos Royal. I may need to just keep the measurements intact and see if that helps.
If you try to make Cuban pancakes at home, do so at your own risk. I’d stick with Betty Crocker on this one. They tasted like the real thing, not the runny bell-like things I made with Nitza's version.

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