Everyday Cooking

Fruit-Laden, Whole-Grain Pancakes

September 12, 2013

Every other Thursday, we bring you Nicholas Day -- on cooking for children, and with children, and despite children. Also, occasionally, on top of.

Today: Nicholas loads his pancakes with whole grains and fruit -- not because it's healthy, just because it's good.

Fruit-Laden, Whole-Grain Pancakes on Food52

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I have a tortured relationship with pancakes. I have talked publicly about this before; I am not ashamed. Basically, I adore pancakes. And pancakes repay my affection by sending me into a Rip Van Winkle-like weekend stupor from which I only awake when the toddler, desperate to be fed, starts teething on my ankles. 

But there comes a time when a father, no matter how many recipes he still has not made in The Breakfast Book, has to make pancakes. It’s stipulated in a clause somewhere in the appendix to the Contract of American Fatherhood. (You sign it, sleep-deprived, at the hospital; no one ever remembers it. It’s also why fathers are obligated to play interminable games of catch with their sons. You think they enjoy that?) Don’t think you can weasel out of this by making crepes. Leggings are not pants, and crepes are not pancakes.  

Fruit-Laden, Whole-Grain Pancakes on Food52

In any case, after many lengthy, batter-focused sessions with my therapist, my occasional weekend pancakes have: 1) Less white flour; 2) More fruit.

I know that reads like a parody of a health-conscious recipe adaptation for children. (You know what I’m talking about: the just-add-chia-seeds-to-your-cookies sort of recipe. Which I swear I just made up but turns out to totally exist.) But health-conscious recipe adaptations are in clear violation of the standards and best practices of this column. This column does not think that the best way to get your child to eat fruit is to hide it in a pancake. It thinks that the best way to get your child to eat fruit is to give said child fruit. It also thinks that any sort of smuggling -- and here I am refusing to link to a chocolate-broccoli cupcake recipe -- is modeling bad behavior. It may start with healthy vegetables. But who knows where such smuggling will end?

I am interested in none of the many good reasons to use less white flour and more fruit. I do not want you to use less white flour for nutritional reasons. I do not want you to use less white flour because the children are our future. I want you to use less white flour and more fruit because pancakes with less white flour and fruit are superior pancakes. They are more like a pancake and less like the top of a muffin.

More: Even less like the top of a muffin? Green pancakes.

A pancake made with white whole wheat flour -- which is much milder than the standard red whole wheat -- has some weight to counterbalance the maple syrup. It has some taste besides maple syrup. It has some complexity. And it will not put you to sleep after seven bites.

And it will have, if I am making it, a high ratio of fruit to batter. Not blueberries but fruit that will caramelize: bananas, peaches, apples. Once the pancakes are on the griddle, the tops are covered with slices of fruit, which, once flipped, will grow soft and golden. I like some fruit in every bite, so much that the batter only peeks through the slices. If your fruit caramelized nicely, you can flip the pancakes again to serve, so that the golden slices are on top. Think of it, if you must, as pancake tatin.

Fruit-Laden, Whole-Grain Pancakes

Fruit-Laden, Whole-Grain Pancakes 

Serves 4 to 5

1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup whole millk
1/2 cup yogurt
A few fruits of your choice: bananas, peaches, apples all work well.

See the full recipe (and save and print) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is nicholasday.net; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.


bookjunky January 7, 2014
In my house, pancakes are in the Contract of American Motherhood. Every Sunday. I also make mine with whole wheat flour, and no one seems to notice object. I also use a slosh of olive oil instead of butter, and it doesn't seem to affect the taste negatively. For a while I enforced a homemade-jam instead of maple syrup rule, but the kid whined until I bought syrup. As far as flavor being superior, I personally think whole wheat tastes vastly better than white anything but try convincing a child of that.
aargersi September 16, 2013
Made these for a gang of us at the beach yesterday morning - they are great! I haven't made pancakes in YEARS, but these will get another go - fluffy, delicious, and not belly-bombs. We get extra points for whisking egg whites to peaks by hand (it tool 3 of us taking turns) ... yow
Valerie S. September 15, 2013
I make pancakes with white whole wheat *all the time* for my kids, and we all love it. They are so much more flavorful and leave us feeling energized, not comatose. The ordinary white-flour ones taste like gassy styrofoam to me now. Great recipe!
MSL-2302 September 14, 2013
I made these with thin apple slices today, and they were fabulous! I used strawberry-banana yogurt (it's what we had) and regular whole wheat flour (ditto), and they were great. FWIW: I ended up adding about a half cup of milk because the batter was very thick, and my first pancakes had that burnt outside, raw inside problem. After adding milk, they were perfect. Thanks for a great recipe!
Fairmount_market September 14, 2013
Scoff if you will, but our family's go to pancakes are chia seed and buckwheat: http://food52.com/recipes/20416-chia-seed-and-buckwheat-pancakes. Not necessarily for the health benefits, but because the chia seeds absorb liquid and gel, allowing a low flour to buttermilk ratio which makes for light and tender pancakes.
Nicholas D. September 15, 2013
No fair! That's kind of brilliant.
jbban September 13, 2013
"pancake tatin" is so apt!
Jess M. September 12, 2013
The solution for my whole wheat flour sitting in the cupboard!