I don’t buy a lot of new cookbooks anymore. There are a couple of reasons for this; I already have hundreds, I have a limited space for my collection, and I occasionally receive new cookbooks for the purpose of reviewing them, mostly for Cheftalk. That’s not to say that I don’t buy cookbooks. It’s just that my focus has changed. In the past year or so I have been actively collecting vintage cookbooks and cooking pamphlets, you know the ones, pamphlets that come with new appliances, and those put out by various food boards, promoting the use of their products. These pamphlets were quite the rage in the 1930′s-1950′s (and beyond) as new foods and appliances where introduced to the American public at a rather rapid rate. I also have a most of the first 10 years worth of pamphlets put out by Pillsbury, listing the winning recipes of their annual, national bake-off. I also have a couple of books dating back to the turn of the century (not this one, but from the late 1800′s) with my oldest book, and pride of my collection, dating back to 1877.
One of my most recent finds was a copy of the “Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook” copyrighted 1962 (whose picture is above). This book was one of the most used cookbooks, in our house when we were growing up, along with “The Joy of Cooking,” and I spent countless hours looking through it and trying the recipes when I was a young boy. In fact, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to say that this book was one of the key components to why I became a chef in the first place.
While I loved the whole book, as a kid, probably the most used, most loved, recipes was “Favorite Pancakes,” found on page 79. This was my go-to recipe for pancakes the entire time I was living at home. But, as happens with so many of us, so often, I left home and quickly forgot about it, especially as a young chef, in training, where I learned many great recipes for pancakes over the years. Fast forward to this summer, I was out hitting the yard sales (Rummage sales as they are called in my part of Wisconsin) and I came across this book once again. It was like coming across an old friend and I was flooded with many fun memories of my childhood. Needless to say, I grabbed it up quickly and that following Saturday morning, to no one’s surprise, we had pancakes.
So how does the recipe hold up after all these years, and after learning pancakes recipes from chefs across the country? I have to say that it is still one of the best, straight forward pancake recipes I’ve ever used. The pancakes are light and fluffy with just the right amount of lift to keep them from being too crepe-like. So it is with great joy that I share with my readers an old, forgotten recipe brings back a lot of memories for me.
adapted from “Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook”
makes 12 dollar sized or 8 4 inch pancakes
1 1/4 cups of All-purpose flour, sifted
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tb. Sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 Egg, beaten
1 cup Milk
2 Tb. Salad oil, melted shortening, or bacon fat
Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk and oil. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir just until the flour is moistened (Batter will be lumpy)*. Bake on a hot griddle.
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed a hungry family.
*Do not overmix the batter or your pancakes will be tough and will not rise properly.
We didn’t keep buttermilk in the house often, but I occasionally made this variation on the recipe found in the same book, listed under “Favorite Pancake Variations.”
Substitute buttermilk, or sour milk for the sweet milk. Add 1/2 tsp. (baking) soda and cut the baking powder to 2 tsp.