I have a love hate relationship with breakfast. All of the best “breakfast” food is chock full of carbs. As someone who shouldn’t be indulging in carbs, this presents a lot of problems. Breakfast is where one can shamefully eat something that’s a dessert and call it a “meal”. You can’t get away with waffles, pancakes, or French toast at lunch. But breakfast? No problem. Bacon and fatty sausage are paired with such indulgences and it’s perfectly acceptable. What other meal can pull this off? Not one. You have a side of bacon at dinner, you better be eating “breakfast for dinner”. Breakfast is such an anomaly. Eggs and sausage is one person’s low carb breakfast and another person’s health nightmare. On the flip side, one person’s oatmeal is a heart healthy breakfast for some people, but a low carb eater’s horror show.
In other meals, you just don’t get so much controversy. The other meals have a sense of balance. You could be low carb and low calorie/fat with a salad. Or grilled fish or chicken. There is more overlap and options for all types of eaters.
My kids LOVE breakfast. Doughnuts, waffles, pancakes, french toast, regular toast and muffins are all begged for in large quantities. From a practical standpoint, I love waffles and muffins. They keep well, make lots in a short amount of time, and can be reheated easily for breakfast during the week. Add a breakfast meat cooked the night before and reheated and morning breakfasts are a breeze. But, the kids grow tired of repetition and insist on pancakes. I am just not a fan. The first batch comes out meh and it takes FOREVER to cook them. Until, of course, the pan becomes too hot, then the pancakes burn. Saving them for another day? Unless you are going to cut squares of parchment out and place them between each pancake, better not freeze or refrigerate them. They meld into a large mass never to be separated again. My waffles have never betrayed me in such an unforgivable manner. Ditto my muffins.
But, the heart wants what it wants. Plus, I had sour cream to spare. And maybe one of my kids was boycotting waffles and guilt wouldn’t let me send her to school with nothing in her stomach. So, I when I came across a really old recipe for sour cream pancakes (1850s!), I caved. As an aside, I love when people write about how they “thought” to add sour cream to anything and call it new or improved. Um, people have been cooking for a really, really long time. Unless this is some kind of crazy pancake foam or sous vide, it’s not new.
In The Great Western Cookbook by Angelina Maria Collins, written for Western Housewifes, Mrs. Collins details her very own pancake recipe in one titled: Mrs. Collins’ Batter Cakes. I was particularly interested in this recipe as it would make use of my left over sour cream. I made tacos, and you just don’t need that much sour cream for tacos. I ALWAYS have leftover sour cream.
The recipe is fairly modern, as Mrs. Collins used several interesting techniques, for the time, to make very light pancakes. First, she separated the eggs, and whipped the whites “until frothy”. Aerated egg whites, if the bubbles are left intact through careful folding into the pancake batter, will create a very airy confection. She also employed some chemical assistance. In the days before baking powder or soda, there was, for a brief time, “saleratus”. Instead of sodium bicarbonate (modern baking soda), saleratus was usually potassium bicarbonate. Using a bicarbonate with sour cream, which is acidic, and heat would also create air bubbles, also helping to lighten the pancake. Nowadays, people largely rely on baking powder or soda alone to lighten the pancakes.
The recipe also included all the usual suspects in such a concoction: flour, eggs, and milk:
Take four eggs, beat them separately, and to the yolks add of pint of rich milk, beat in enough flour to make it into a thick batter. Put in a tea-cupful of sour cream, a tea-spoonful of saleratus; add this to the batter, mix in lightly the white of the eggs, beaten to a froth, and bake on a hot griddle like buckwheat cakes.
I’ve updated it slightly to include a bit of salt and vanilla and changed some of the ratios because, well, “enough flour” just isn’t a really good descriptor for a blog recipe, is it?
Sour Cream Pancakes
Makes about 16
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, separated
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for cooking pancakes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries (optional), dusted with 1 tablespoon flour
In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, whole milk, egg yolks, melted butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, Whip the egg yolks until soft peaks form.
Add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and just combine (batter will be lumpy and that’s ok). Gently fold in the egg whites. If desired, fold in the blueberries.
In large non-stick pan, or flat griddle, melt enough butter over medium heat to coat the pan. I like to use clarified butter or ghee for this step, but butter works well. You may need to add more as you work through the batches. It just has to be watched because it has a tendency to burn. When the griddle is evenly heated, add about a 1/4th a cup of batter to the griddle. When the top of the pancake is dotted with bubbles and the bottom is brown, flip over and cook for another minute or so. Remove from the griddle and serve. Alternatively, put the oven on low (170-200 degrees Fahrenheit), and keep the pancakes in the oven until needed.