John bought me Kim Boyce’s book Good to the Grain for my birthday. It’s a homey baking book (my specialty) with recipes featuring flours other than all purpose (not my specialty.) I love the idea of using more whole grains in baking, but the practice often leaves me wishing I’d stuck with regular old reliable all purpose flour. Take for example this no white flour, no white sugar zucchini bread I made a couple months back. I had high hopes, but the flavor (or lack there of) and the texture (mushy mess) did not win me over.
The great thing about Kim Boyce’s book is she’s a chef not a nutritional expert or dietician – she bakes with different types of flours for the flavor, exploring what makes each unique and pairing each with complementary ingredients. She’s up front in the introduction – many of her recipes call for some portion all purpose flour because it’s often the only way to get baked goods to behave texturally.
These pancakes were my first foray into the book, and I couldn’t resist making a few small changes. The original recipe calls for part oat flour and part all purpose flour. I replaced the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour, a whole grain flour I find works especially well in pancakes. Whole wheat pastry flour is more finely ground than regular whole wheat flour and lower in protein, yielding tender pancakes. I also browned the butter for the pancakes (since you’re melting it anyways, might as well amp up the flavor), which gives a nutty depth to these already flavorful pancakes.
We ate the pancakes plainly with a scattering of berries and a good pour of maple syrup on a rainy August morning, which was delicious sure, but I think that these would be even better in the fall. Something about the heartiness of the oats, the browned butter, and the subtle sweetness of the molasses made me want to revisit these in a couple months with a pinch of cinnamon and a smear of apple butter or some lightly sautéed apples.
Makes 16-18 pancakes and serves about 4. Any leftover cooked pancakes can be lightly toasted and smeared with jam for a snack or breakfast the next day.
For the Pancakes
3 tbsp butter, plus more for the pan
¾ cup oat flour*
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or substitute all purpose flour)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cup milk (I used 1%)
1 cup cooked oatmeal**
2 tbsp unsulphured molasses
Set the butter in a small skillet over medium high heat and cook until the butter begins to brown – it will stop sizzling, smell very aromatic and nutty, and take on a slightly nut-brown color. Remove from the heat immediately. Be careful, a small quantity of butter like this will go from browned to burned very quickly. Once I get my butter nicely browned, I like to transfer it to a small cool dish to avoid any further cooking in the hot pan. Set the browned butter aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the oat flour, wheat flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the cooled brown butter, milk, oatmeal, molasses, and eggs and whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently fold together. Avoid over-mixing the batter as this will yield a tougher pancake.
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat for 2 minutes, then lightly brush the surface with butter. The butter should sizzle but not burn – adjust the heat accordingly. Dollop ¼ mounds of batter into the pan about 1 inch apart – depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to cook between 2 and 4 pancakes at a time. Once bubbles form on the pancakes and the edges begin to firm up, carefully flip each pancake and continue cooking on the other side until golden brown, about 2 minutes more. Serve immediately with maple syrup and butter. If you’re cooking for a crowd, the pancakes can also be kept warm in a 200 degree oven covered with a clean dish towel until you are ready to serve.
*To make your own oat flour, simply pulse ¾ cup + 2 tbsp rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground.
**If you don’t have leftover cooked oatmeal on hand, make 1 cup of cooked oatmeal by combining 2/3 cup rolled oats with 1 1/3 cups cold water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook stirring occasionally until thick, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.