This golden batch of Fluffy Pancakes is in honor of one of the most important men in my life, my dad. Were he still with us, he would be 53 years old today.
This is my first time writing about my dad here, at least directly. Almost eight years ago when I was still in college, he died tragically in a plane crash, which isn’t exactly information one drops casually in the midst of a post about, say, muffins.
Easy to bring up or not, I wanted to talk about my dad because he is a big part of who I am, both in life and in death.
I struggled with my identity after he died, mostly because I felt like I had been branded. When something happens to you that drastically affects the way you perceive every second of your existence, it’s easy to forget that to everyone else, it’s just Tuesday. After the funeral, I felt like I was wearing a giant sign around my neck that read, “Hey! I’m the girl whose dad died.” Grief can be pretty all consuming, so it’s easy to forget that you have a life outside of it. Also, for the first few years after his death, I never needed to tell people about it—my friends at school and home already knew.
This changed after college. As new friends grew to know me, they eventually learned that my dad had passed away and how. Breaking this kind of news is tricky, because the other person often doesn’t know how to react. Before either of us realizes what’s happening, my friend is apologizing profusely, and I am doing the consoling. I never mind when this happens.
Because it feels good to talk about my dad.
He was a wonderful man, a loving father, and fiercely dedicated to family game night.
He tried to hold my hand in public until the age it became embarrassing, and I wouldn’t let him.
He taught me to ride a bike and to drive.
He ended every conversation with, “I love you.”
He made the world’s fluffiest pancakes every Saturday morning.
Despite my best efforts, I cannot recreate the thickness and softness of those pancakes. Sure, I can load up a batter to make a fatty pancake, but his were different—despite their thickness, they remained pillowy soft and melted on my tongue like the daintiest of flapjacks. His recipe was directly out of an old, beat-up copy of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, (the pancake page was very crusty), but the recipe in the cookbook’s most recent edition (the one on my shelf) has been updated to include buttermilk, which an ingredient for which my dad’s version did not call.
I realize that with a few rounds of Google, I could find my dad’s version of the recipe, but to be honest with you, I’d rather not. Between the Mardi Gras King Cake French Toast, Zucchini Waffles, and Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls that I’m busy dreaming up (and devouring) for this little corner of the internet, it’s not often that I stir together a simple batch of pancakes like these. I like not obsessing over them. Making classic pancakes connects me to my dad, so if I need to spend the next 40 years going rounds with flour, milk, and baking powder to rediscover his perfect, fluffy pancake recipe, I’m OK with that.
The version of Fluffy Pancakes I’m giving you today is my latest rendition. No, they don’t rival my dad’s for his supreme thickness, but they are delightfully tender, lightly fluffy, and perfect for lazy weekends in cozy slippers. They also make a lovely birthday breakfast, if I do say so myself.
Thank you all for letting me share a little bit about my dad with you. Though he was taken many, many years too soon, I know he is still with me. It feels right to give him a bit of space here, were I spend so many hours.
Happy Birthday Daddy. I love you.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Butter, pure maple syrup, or other toppings, for serving
- Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 200 degrees F. Have a large baking sheet or pan on hand. Heat a large, non-stick skillet or griddle over medium.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large measuring cup or another medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, egg, canola oil, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture. Stir with a fork just till moistened (batter should be lumpy).
- Once the skillet is properly heated (do not add the batter when the skillet is cold), lightly grease skillet with butter or cooking spray. Pour ¼ cup batter onto the skillet. Cook about 2 minutes on each side, until the pancakes are golden brown. When the batter forms a bubbly surface and the edges are dry, it is time to flip. Turn to the second side and cook until golden. Remove to a baking pan and place in the preheated oven to keep warm until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately with butter, pure maple syrup, or any other topping you fancy.
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