Pancakes, Hotcakes, Even Hoecakes Have A Place In History

Posted: January 19, 1997

Pancakes are so basic to our culinary heritage that I sometimes forget how really special they are. Most likely it was one of the first prepared foods to pass the lips of early man, and now the pancake exists, both leavened and unleavened, in almost every cuisine under the sun.

I was fascinated to learn that the round shape of the pancake was considered symbolic of the sun and played an important part in early religious rituals.

Certainly pancakes are central to early American cookery. In fact, Native Americans were making cakes from ground cornmeal and cooking them on hot rocks long before European explorers found their way to the New World and eventually introduced their version of this round, flat cake.

The word ``pan'' came much later with the introduction of metal cooking utensils. Folk tales abound when it comes to pancakes, but I am especially fond of the story about cakes cooked on the blade of a hoe and called hoecakes.

The fact is that pancakes aren't just morning food. I think they are perfect for a fast and fresh supper. The batter is easy to prepare and the pancakes cook in just a few minutes.

I especially like the following recipe for Cottage Cheese and Apple Pancakes. Not too sweet, and very nourishing, these pancakes are thick, fluffy and tender and are delicious served with sausage, bacon or ham and a side dish of applesauce. They're satisfying enough that no dessert need be served after a pancake supper.

Quick Dinner Menu

Apple-Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Apple Cider Sauce or Maple Syrup

Bacon, Ham or Sausage Links

Warm Applesauce With Cinnamon

The time-saving game plan: Cook the bacon, ham or sausage and keep warm in an oven set at its lowest temperature. Heat the platter and plates for the pancakes in the warm oven. Prepare the Apple Cider Sauce. Make the pancakes and serve on a warm platter. Heat the applesauce in the microwave or a small saucepan. Sprinkle a little Cinnamon Sugar on the warm pancakes or the applesauce.

* These pancakes are tender and fluffy and are especially nice when served with warm applesauce and sprinkled with Cinnamon Sugar. Remember to cook these more slowly than usual so they are lightly browned, but cooked through.

APPLE-COTTAGE CHEESE PANCAKES 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

3 large eggs, separated

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup peeled, cored and chopped apple

6 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Oil

Cinnamon Sugar (recipe follows)

3 cups jarred or homemade applesauce

Apple Cider Syrup (recipe follows)

Combine cottage cheese, egg yolks and butter in large bowl and stir to blend. Add chopped apple, flour, sugar and salt and stir to combine.

Whisk or beat egg whites in separate bowl until soft peaks form. Using rubber spatula, gently fold into batter. (Batter will be very stiff.)

Heat nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water. Brush with thin film of oil. Drop batter onto griddle from 1/4-cup dry measure and spread batter with back of cup to make 4-inch pancakes.

Cook pancakes over medium-low heat until bubbles cover surface and bottoms are lightly browned. Carefully turn and lightly brown other side, about 6 minutes total cooking time.

Sprinkle warm pancakes with Cinnamon Sugar and serve with warm applesauce and/or Apple Cider Syrup. Makes 12 (4-inch) pancakes.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 6 minutes

Nutritional data per serving: Calories, 142; protein, 4 grams; carbohydrates, 22 grams; fat, 5 grams; cholesterol, 62 milligrams; sodium, 174 milligrams.

CINNAMON SUGAR 1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Stir to blend. Serve from shaker. Makes one-quarter cup.

Nutritional data per tablespoon: Calories, 24; protein, none; carbohydrates, 6 grams; fat, none grams; cholesterol, none; sodium, none.

APPLE CIDER SYRUP 1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups apple cider

1 cinnamon stick

Freshly grated nutmeg

Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan and stir until well combined. Gradually stir in apple cider until blended. Add cinnamon stick and bring to boil. Cover and cook over low heat 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Grate a little nutmeg into syrup. Makes about two cups.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Nutritional data per tablespoon: Calories, 87; protein, none; carbohydrates, 23 grams; fat, none; cholesterol, none; sodium, 2 milligrams.

Marie Simmons is the author of ``Fresh & Fast'' (Chapters Publishing).

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