Friday, June 10, 2011

Pancake Fiasco

For the past few weeks, I've been craving pancakes, and this morning when I got up, I felt this was the day to do it. I was planning on just whipping up some batter using my Bisquick mix, but before I started, I decided to check to see whether my eggs were still good.

I don't go through eggs very quickly. I only buy a half a dozen at a time, and they usually sit in my fridge for way too long. Mostly I use them for baking, sometimes for the occasional (and rare) omelette. The carton I had this morning only had two eggs left, and the sell by date was... sometime in April. Yup. April.

Just to be absolutely sure that my eggs weren't good, I looked up some information online about eggs. Did you know that all FDA-approved eggs have a 3-digit stamp on the carton? The stamp indicates which day of the year the eggs were actually packed, with day 1 being January 1, and day 365 being December 31. The three-digit stamp on my carton was 063. This didn't bode well.

I read another web page which said that you could tell how good an egg was by how it floated in water. New eggs will sink, but older eggs will float (and middle-ish eggs will sink but stand on their tip). My eggs floated.

I could have given up at that point and eaten Raisin Bran, but I really was in the mood for pancakes. I searched online for egg-free pancake recipes, which were not difficult to locate. I also pulled up a discussion board where one person said, in effect, "I made pancakes without eggs and they tasted the same. What do we even need eggs for?"

The posted answers were varied, and none of them actually addressed the question. The replies contained shared experiences of pancakes people had made without eggs. From the comments on that board, I began to think that maybe I could just make my Bisquick mix without the eggs, and it would be totally fine. In that case, the ingredients would just include milk and Bisquick.

At the bottom of the recipe on the back of the Bisquick box, however, there's a heading that says, "Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pancakes". There are two different varieties of Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pancakes. The first, the "Classic" variety, involved sugar, baking powder, and lemon juice. I didn't have lemon juice, so I looked at the "Supreme" variety, which included sugar, baking powder, and vanilla. I did have vanilla. Thinking that perhaps the additional ingredients for the Supreme Melt-In-Your-Mouth pancakes might mask the lack of eggs (if there was any noticeable difference), I whipped up the batter. I'd also thought about making the Melt-In-Your-Mouth pancakes before but I'd never done it, so I figured this was as good a time as any.
Once upon a time, I purchase a cast iron griddle. I don't know when or where or why, but I did. I don't frequently use this griddle, but sometimes I feel like I should use it. Does anyone else do this? Feel like they should use their griddle just so it will get used once in a while? At any rate, today was the day for that, too.

The griddle is located in my big cupboard of pots and pans and sheets and racks. Having worked at the good old BB&B for some years, I have a pretty good bakeware collection (whether or not I use that bakeware is a different story), and the griddle sits at the very bottom of it all, in the very back corner. It's convenient, I know. I pulled out the griddle and turned the stove on to a little less than medium, then gave the griddle a couple minutes to heat.
A not-so-secret secret about me is that I don't really know much about griddles or how to use them. Actually, I know a lot more now than I did this morning, because I have since read this page, which I thought sounded good. Once the griddle was hot, I took a stick of butter from the fridge and rubbed the end of it over the griddle. It smoked and fizzed and it was great. I scooped up some batter and plopped my first two pancakes on the griddle.

Then it started to smoke in earnest. I wasn't sure what was smoking--probably the butter I rubbed on the griddle, and probably the griddle, and probably the pancakes too--but when I looked up and around at my kitchen, it was FILLED with smoke.

Do I have a smoke detector? I thought. Because it should be going off right about now. (I have since located the place where my smoke detector is supposed to be, and I think the detector itself is sitting on top of my cabinets, I just need to check and make sure--and put a battery in.)

I decided I really didn't need to cook with the griddle after all. The pancakes, which had only been on the griddle for a short time, were already burned beyond even what I would eat (and I like somewhat charred food most of the time). I turned them over anyway, just so they wouldn't be runny when I threw them in the trash, and I removed the griddle from the burner. I then fetched my big box fan from my bedroom and turned it on high to clear out the smoke. The windows were already open.

My regular old frying pan is more accessible than my griddle, thankfully. I set it on the hot burner so it could heat up, but I was tired of waiting by then. I gave it maybe a minute, then sprayed the pan with non-stick spray*, dumped the next pancakes in and waited and waited and waited until they were ready to flip.

As I flipped the first pancake, I noticed that there was still a trail of smoke coming from the general cooking area, and I lifted the pan. Something, some little blob of substance, had slipped down onto the burner pan. When did that get there? Did it just do that? I don't think I did, but I don't remember when else it would have gotten down there. All the same, the blob was not happy to be there, and it smoked and smelled bad just to prove it. That's something I'll tackle later, I thought, when the burner is cooled down.

There was nothing particularly unusual about actually making the pancakes, once I finally got going. Perhaps they were a tad more difficult to turn, as eggs serve to stick the ingredients together, but overall it seemed normal.

At last my pancakes were made, and I sat down to eat. I drizzled (okay, poured) on the syrup and took the first bite. Delicious, right? Not so much.

I should not have made the Supreme Melt-In-Your-Mouth pancakes. I could taste the vanilla, and I didn't like it. It is also highly likely that the vanilla has gone bad by now too (how do you tell when vanilla goes bad?), so that may be partly why. I wished I had stuck with the regular recipe. I always put chocolate chips in my pancakes anyway, so it's not like I need the extra sugar.

Oh well.

I brought a couple pancakes to my friend and she seemed to like them, so maybe they were ok. Next time, however, I will definitely use eggs... and maybe I'll practice with the griddle more before then.

*Yes, I know you are not supposed to use non-stick spray on non-stick frying pans. But I do anyway. So there.


ol' Bob said...

Yes, eggs are the glue of the cooking world.

At scout camp we once tried to make deep-fried doughnut holes without using eggs in the batter. As soon as the dough balls hit the hot oil, they disintegrated into a shower of deep-fried crumbs.

Suzy_Bean said...

You have a nice article here. I assist Paul Wheaton, the author of, and he has requested that I find any sites that use his pictures and ask them to provide a link with them to the original article.
Thank you, and sorry for the inconvenience,
Suzy Bean

Betty Edit said...

Thank you, Suzy, I've updated the link so the image leads to his site. :o)