Flapjacks, hotcakes, griddlecakes or pancakes – whatever you call them it all means the same thing. Made from a combination of flour, eggs and milk, with recipes so varied and so unique, that each and every pancake seems to take on the flavor of the cook that makes it. Sweet or savory, milk or buttermilk, baking powder or no baking powder, French or German, Southern or Northern – the varieties of pancakes that are available to hungry customers seem to have no limit!
The word “pancake” first appeared in English culinary text back in 1430 and cooks have been working at perfecting them ever since. However, it is the classic buttermilk pancake which still reigns supreme as the Great American favorite. It is ordered – and eaten – more across this nation than any other style of pancake.
How it Works
Pancakes are a sort of quick bread, with most recipes containing baking powder, which allows them to rise to their light and fluffy state. Milk or buttermilk is used along with flour and eggs to create a thick batter. A bit of sugar and a dash of salt help to round out the flavors in the basic recipe.
The pancake batter is then poured onto a hot griddle surface, spreading to form a circle. Bubbles rise from the baking powder on the uncooked side of the pancake, indicating that it needs to be flipped. The texture of the classic buttermilk pancake should be very light and fluffy. They are usually served at breakfast, but can be eaten all day long.
Simple alterations to the spices added to pancakes can really make a difference in taste. Sweet or savory options are available today ranging from sugar-and-spice combinations, such as vanilla and cinnamon, to dinner-style varieties with fresh herbs and seasonings.
What you put on your pancake also makes a difference. Many opt for the traditional serving of butter and sweet, New England maple syrup. Others prefer fresh fruits, compotes or pie toppings that include strawberry, bananas, blueberries, mixed berries, cherries and apples. Whipped cream, flavored syrups, peanut butter, honey, chocolate syrup, cane syrup, molasses or jam – the only limit is your own taste buds.
Other American Varieties
The Johnnycake, which can be spelled johnny cake, jonnycake or journey cake) is a traditional cornmeal pancake that became a staple of the early American diet. Still served today in the New England states, primarily Rhode Island and Massachusetts; as well as the Southern states, such as Mississippi and Louisiana, the modern johnnycake consists of cornmeal, salt and a liquid – usually milk or hot water. The cakes are lightly sweetened and served with maple syrup or other more savory toppings.
Sourdough pancakes were first served in American by prospectors out West. The sourdough allowed breads to rise without requiring yeast. These pancakes are still served today and are extremely popular in the State of Alaska.
Silver dollar pancakes are another American innovation. Tiny pancakes approximately two or three inches in diameter were named after the silver dollar coins that were used prior to 1979 throughout the United States. Cooks fry up a spoonful of classic pancake batter to make these little beauties and a typical serving is 5 or 10 silver dollar pancakes per person.
Depending on where you go – and the time of year that you visit – you will find a number of popular varieties of pancakes across this great nation. Persy’s Place, which has 9 locations throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, features a special Pumpkin Harvest Pancake, which features spiced pumpkin, walnuts and whipped cream. Other seasonal favorites include fruit-topped varieties during harvest, holiday specials and more.
Some of the special recipes you can expect to find year-round at Persy’s Place are all based upon their version of the classic buttermilk pancake. Blueberry, double-blueberry, chocolate-chip and the All-American, which features strawberries, whipped cream and blueberries for a real red-white-and-blue treat.
The Apple Orchard Pancakes, which consist of buttermilk pancakes with toasted walnuts and apples straight from a local New England orchard, and the Cape Codder, which features toasted walnuts and local cranberries, are tastes that just can’t be beat. With hundreds of breakfast options available to their customers on New England’s largest breakfast and lunch menu, Persy’s Place is “the place” to go for a true taste of the Great American buttermilk pancake!