Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fluffy (and Reduced Fat!) Blueberry Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup

Back in the 80's, a couple of decades before really becoming interested in cooking, one of the first foods I learned to make was pancakes. I improvised a reduced-fat version of a recipe I'd found in one of those privately-published cookbooks from someone's long-forgotten fundraiser. And for the next 20+ years, that recipe - tasting the whole time like one of the first foods I learned to make - was the one I used . The pancakes were ok, in a sorta-kinda way, but I wanted better flavor and a fluffier texture.

Fast-forward to the present time, and the significantly improved recipe which follows below. Two key elements to the improved version are the addition of a bit of nutmeg, a spice whose versatility I'm coming to appreciate more every day, and beaten egg whites in place of the egg-substitute eggs I'd always relied on. (When you make this, or anything else involving beaten egg whites, it's very important to use real egg whites from separated eggs, and not the egg whites you pour from a carton. The packaged kind may be great for reducing fat and cholesterol, but I've found they don't stiffen into peaks when beaten the way fresh egg whites do.)

Your fresh pancakes, of course, will deserve to be topped with something special, so we'll start by putting together a delicious - and easy-to-make - fresh strawberry syrup. This tasty topping is made even better by containing chunks of strawberry. (It doesn't look like the syrup at the pancake house, but that's the whole point of making your own in the first place!) Since it's best to have the syrup already on hand when the pancakes are done cooking, you can make a batch ahead of time. It stores well in the refrigerator, so there's no problem making it even a day or two before.

So let's get started! For the reasons mentioned, we'll do the syrup first. This recipe makes about a pint.
Begin by putting a glass plate or saucer in the freezer.  If you’ve never done that and don’t know why you would do something so strange, bear with me. Its purpose will be clear shortly.

Hull and quarter 1 pound of fresh strawberries.

Combine 1 cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon in a medium saucepan. Before turning on the heat, mix it well until the sugar and juice are combined and the mixture resembles an Italian lemon ice. Once they’re mixed, turn the heat on very low until the sugar is melted, stirring often.

Add the strawberries, ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg and one tablespoon of butter substitute to the saucepan and mix well till all the strawberries are coated with the melted sugar. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the strawberries are soft. When they’re done, remove the strawberries, draining any excess liquid back to the saucepan, and set them aside.
Continue to cook the liquid until it is reduced to about half. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool. (Since the liquid will be thin from being very hot, you can check the thickness it will have once it’s cooled by putting a few drops on that plate you placed in the freezer at the beginning. That’s a useful trick from the world of jam and jelly making.) Once the liquid has the thickness you want, add it to the strawberries, and either serve immediately or refrigerate for later use. (Waiting until the liquid cools before adding it to the strawberries is important; adding it hot will continue to cook the strawberries and make them mushy.)
Now that you’ve got some great syrup, let’s make those fluffy pancakes!
Combine 1-1/4 cups of skim milk, 2 tablespoons of melted butter substitute, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, sift together 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, ¾ teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
Combine these dry ingredients with the milk mixture and mix until a batter is formed.
In a bowl (you can save dishes by washing out and reusing the bowl you just combined the dry ingredients in), combine four egg whites and a pinch of salt and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
Fold the beaten egg whites in parts into the batter, working carefully to keep the fluffiness.
The batter is ready. Now let’s get on the fluffy blueberry pancake express!
Melt 1 teaspoon of butter substitute on the griddle, and pour out pancakes of about ¼ cup of batter each. Cook over medium heat until done on the bottom, then add some blueberries (fresh is best, but frozen ones work too) to the uncooked tops and turn the pancakes over, cooking until done. Repeat until all the batter is cooked. (To do the whole bowl of batter, you’ll need about 1 cup of blueberries. Note that there’s no need to dust them with flour before adding them to the pancakes.)
And there you have it!

For a cookbook-style, notebook-ready copy of these or any other recipes on this site, send me an e-mail and I'll get it right to you.

Thanks for visiting. Till next week, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. Thanks for the tip about packaged egg-whites. This has to be one of my favorite dishes, and I always rush it. This would help me slow down and get it right lkol. Thanks ;-)

  2. Alaina, are you writing with your mouth full? lol...I love it!

    And Cathy, I'm glad you liked what I found out (the hard way) about packaged egg whites. Boy, was I disappointed when I saw they don't whip like the fresh ones. I hope you will give this recipe a try. Let me know how it turns out!