Do you, being of a certain age, remember when McDonald's first started serving breakfast?
I certainly do. It was a pretty big deal back then, and for our small family it was considered a real treat.
I remember for us it was reserved for Sundays only, and we would go after church, still in suits, ties, and dresses. My parents didn't need to be warned that the coffee was hot, and we kids didn't need to be warned that we still needed to act like we were in a restaurant, not a fast food joint.
My breakfast of choice was always the hotcakes. They came in a squeaky Styrofoam container that you could easily puncture with your plastic knife to make patterns with your "maple syrup". The butter atop the pancakes was a little scoop, not a square pat and you could swirl it around and around before eating the last little bit off of your fork.
These days my Mickey D's visits are few and far between and most Sunday mornings you can find me merrily answering baker's hotline calls from my desk at King Arthur Flour. Quite often I wish I could have that hotcake breakfast again though (minus the frilly dress and bows in my hair; no, I will not share pictures).
Thanks to Pinterest, that giant bulletin board of ideas in the cloud, I now have a way to share pancakes without standing at a griddle, or standing in line for takeout. I'm sure plenty of you have been doing this for years, but for me... a revelation.
Behold the pancake square.
That's right, pancake batter baked in a rectangular pan then sliced into squares. So simple, it plumb evaded my notice for years.
I know you all don't need a step by step tutorial and can figure it out, but here's a few photos for the curious.
My all-time favorite pancakes are blueberry pancakes from a mix. Toss everything in a bowl, blend it up well and pour it into a greased 9" x 13" x 2" pan, or for thicker cakes a 7" X 11" baking dish. You can, of course, use your favorite mix or scratch recipe.
Bake at 350°F for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a cake tester tests clean in the center. At this point the whole house will smell like pancakes, and you'll be wondering why your back isn't smarting from standing over the griddle for the last 25 minutes.
Keep in mind if you add fresh fruit or frozen fruit, the baking time may be slightly longer.
For the full breakfast experience, why not add a tray of bacon to bake at the same time? PJ's blog makes bakin' bacon a breeze.
You can serve the squares plain to cover with (or dip into) syrup, or you can make a simple glaze with 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, and enough milk to make a smooth, spreadable glaze. I like to add just a pinch of salt to cut the sweetness, but that's just a personal choice.
A pastry brush is the best tool I've found for spreading the glaze over the warm pancakes before slicing.
Cut your pan full of goodness into squares and serve warm.
If you're feeding several hungry mouths, you can make as many trays of pancakes as you need. You could even fill the pan with batter the night before and then bake straight from the fridge in the morning. Leftovers can be stored well-wrapped at room temperature for 2 days, or frozen in individual servings.
Happen to have one of our burger and pie pans for making individual pieces? I found it was perfect for making large pancakes. Make a stack of these at the beginning of the week and everyone can choose their own flavors each day. Hot breakfast for the win!
Delightful, and perfectly portable. And nary a hair bow in sight!
So, how late am I to the pancake square dance? Is this something you've been doing at home for years, or are you a newbie like me? Only the comments will tell.