Pancake

Rosa Parks' "Featherlite" Peanut Butter Pancakes

May  4, 2017

EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally published this story in February of last year, when the Library of Congress first digitized Rosa Parks’ personal papers. Within those pages was her sterling pancake recipe, which is making the rounds again thanks to this week’s episode of the Sporkful podcast. Give it a listen, and whip up a batch of these.

This morning, the Library of Congress announced that they had digitized Rosa Parks' personal collection of papers, letters, and photographs. The memorabilia, which had been protected for over a decade due to a lengthy legal battle, is now available to the public. We couldn't help but notice that slipped in among her first-hand writings about the Montgomery bus boycott and family photos is a short recipe.

Scribbled in sloping letters onto a deposit slip from Detroit National Bank, the title reads "Featherlite Pancakes." What follows is a list of ingredients—including peanut butter!—and a short description of the method: "Combine with dry ingredients. Cook at 275° F on griddle."

Photo by Library of Congress

As fans of any and all lofty, airy pancakes, we decided to recreate Rosa's recipe this morning, peanut butter and all. While we can't say we were surprised by the inclusion of peanut butter—Rosa was raised in Alabama, a major peanut-growing state—but where the recipe is surprising in that the peanut butter goes into the batter, rather than on top of the pancakes.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I'm thrilled as well and for that reason have saved Rosa Parks' recipe on the envelope as a jpg and will print it and use it instead. To me, part of the meaning of a good recipe is the paper on which it is printed. Thank you for this article, Leslie! I plan on making these pancakes as written!”
— softenbrownsugar
Comment

But while you'd expect a peanut butter-laced pancake to be rich and heavy (since the addition of even a third of a cup adds oil and sugar to a recipe that already has other sources of it), these pancakes live up to their name. Rosa Parks' pancakes are surprisingly fluffy—thanks, likely, to 2 tablespoons of baking powder—with a toasty hint of peanut butter.

We have Rosa Parks to thank for much more important things than pancakes, but that doesn't make us any less grateful for the recipe.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Have you ever put peanut butter in your pancakes? Tell us in the comments!

30 Comments

julie C. May 7, 2017
yikes - 2 tablespoons baking powder - please amend recipe its 2 teaspoons baking powder.
 
Thomas J. May 9, 2017
Big T. Tableapoon
 
nancy E. February 10, 2018
Why should they? the recipe calls for 2 TBSP.
 
Theodora M. July 16, 2016
I just made these and substituted cookie butter because I didn't have any PB in the house. These were huge and fluffy. Great, easy recipe. It yielded 6 pancakes using a 1/3 cup of batter for each pancake.
 
john U. April 23, 2016
just put fresh strawberry jam with large berry pieces between two pancakes, peanut butter and jelly pancakes anyone?
 
Cindy April 23, 2016
Wow! What a great idea. I used to make choc chip pancakes for my boys and kept the leftovers covered on the stove. By dinner they were all gone.. They'd run in the house of a quick fix and out again. Wish I would have thought of your idea.
 
Cindy April 22, 2016
Buttermilk!! That's the secret to the best pancakes ever. Buttermilk. I've made pancakes when out of buttermilk and they were "flat" tasting, like forgetting to put salt in choc chip cookie batter. Buttermilk makes the most delicious light pancake you will ever eat.
 
Frederique M. April 22, 2016
yum! definately trying these this weekend! With all natural peanut butter and almond milk though, hope they still become fluffy!
 
Elaina B. March 2, 2016
We have been using Rosa's recipe for some years now and it is definitely a favorite! I add the PB to the milk and egg and use a hand mixer to mix it all together.
 
softenbrownsugar March 1, 2016
I totally agree with Judith at hudsonvalleycooking. <br />I'm thrilled as well and for that reason have saved Rosa Parks' recipe on the envelope as a jpg and will print it and use it instead. To me, part of the meaning of a good recipe is the paper on which it is printed. Thank you for this article, Leslie! I plan on making these pancakes as written!
 
[email protected] February 28, 2016
I am thrilled to have a recipe from the archives of such a great women. I will try it just for that reason.
 
hkrf1017 February 28, 2016
Made this as is. I found it easier to treat the recipe as if the peanut butter had been "melted". It was much easier to combine without over mixing the batter that way.
 
Beverly M. February 28, 2016
I made these this morning and they were amazing. I substituted almond butter and used honey vs sugar. Cooked them in duck lard which gave them a lovely crisp around the edges and a nice savory taste combo w/ maple syrup.
 
Laura415 February 28, 2016
@Beverly McGowen That sounds awesome. Especially the duck fat:)
 
Nimrod February 26, 2016
Try 50/50 peanut butter/nutella, or add Nutella on top to this recipe afterwards. Even fluffier if you want to add beaten egg whites at last minute to batter.
 
cristina B. February 26, 2016
Yes!! I always do but must try the double teaspoon of baking powder to see what happens! Made some with homemade hazelnut butter last Sunday and they were heaven!
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. February 26, 2016
Yes! The two tablespoons of baking powder definitely helps to make them fluffy and light!
 
glutwin February 29, 2016
This recipe with Ms. Bertani's suggestion of hazelnut butter...subbing for the peanut...sounds spectacular!
 
Hemalayaa B. February 25, 2016
This recipe is incredible, I made it tonight for dinner (yes I love pancakes for dinner!) and it was a hit. I added 1 tsp of this chai spice blend I just ordered on etsy and it was divine, I highly recommend! <br />https://www.etsy.com/listing/263470098/medicinal-masala-chai-blend<br />Thanks for sharing this recipe
 
Le February 27, 2016
Don't you mean the chai spice that YOU sell on Etsy?? Why be so deceptive?
 
Darlene February 27, 2016
You know, you could've just been honest and said that the chai spice blend was your product.
 
Darlene February 27, 2016
Ha, I had the same thought.
 
Katie F. February 25, 2016
Looks like the handwritten recipe calls for the shortening to be melted, not the peanut butter, but maybe that's just me!
 
mattmill February 25, 2016
I reddit the same way. My mom's recipes are tough to follow sometimes for the same reason. Things just added on where ever she had space to write.
 
Chris February 25, 2016
Melted shortening for sure :)
 
Author Comment
Leslie S. February 26, 2016
Hi all, it's definitely a little unclear! I added the "melted" to the peanut butter after making the recipe because I found that it helped significantly to use warmed, softer peanut butter to dissolve into the egg and milk mixture, but after reading your comments, I have moved where it says "melted" to the shortening—though this will also happen naturally on the hot pan if you use solid shortening. I hope that clears things up, and thank you for your help decoding the recipe!
 
Steven W. February 29, 2016
The shortening is what is to be melted, since it says shortening or oil...but for ease of mixing, I softened the peanut butter too.
 
Sharon N. February 25, 2016
I've used peanut powder, yes!
 
Elissa M. February 28, 2016
Did you use the equivalent of powder that the recipe called for? Did you need to adjust the amount of milk and baking powder this recipe called for?
 
Laura415 February 28, 2016
Peanut powder is another cool idea. It is defatted but still should taste right. Makes me think you can add peanut flavor in various ways. Maybe layering with some peanut butter and some of the powder.