Okay, I admit it! For me, pancakes are really just an excuse to get my fill of a local specialty, maple syrup. Most years, by late March, the typical spring thaw in Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec is characterized by daytime highs that are a little above the freezing point and nights just below it. This creates the ideal condition to start the sap running in the sugar maples that thrive here. There are a number of commercial and family-run sugar bush operations in the area and I enjoy taking a ride out to sample their offerings of the sweet stuff. Brunches at a rustic sugar shack or cabane à sucre are a spring ritual that celebrates one of our Canadian food treasures.
Choose your Maple Syrup
There are categories of maple syrup ranging from light to dark. Similar to how olive oil is graded, the extra-light is the first to be produced and is considered by the aficionados to be the finest grade. It is very smooth going down and has no after taste. As the season progresses, the syrup turns amber, and the taste is a little heavier. At the end of the run, the syrup gets dark, and the taste is harsher. This grade is not so common and could be described as a bit like a woody molasses.
Since we are going all natural with the syrup, it would only be fitting to do the same with the pancakes. Here is a variation of a recipe from an old Five Roses Flour cookbook published back in the 1950s. This was an era before the boxed mixes that claim to take the hassle out of making pancakes. But seriously, making them from scratch really is no more hassle than making them from a boxed mix. Try this recipe and you be the judge.
Pancakes from Scratch
- 1¼ cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ⅓ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Wet Ingredients
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- ½ tsp vanilla
- Mix the dry ingredients
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg, milk and mix well.
- Stir into the dry ingredients until smooth
- Stir in the melted butter and vanilla
- Add a little lard or oil to a large frying pan and heat to medium
- Ladle out portions into pan and fry until bubbles form. Flip over
- Cook for about a minute on the other side.
After you have made the pancake batter above, rinse and dry 1 cup of blueberries (preferably wild ones), coat with a little flour, then stir them into your batter.