Eric Carle and Buttermilk Pancakes


I’ve been reading Pancakes, Pancakes! Eric Carle’s lovely book about a boy who asks his mother to make him a pancake for breakfast, but she’s very busy and so asks him to get all the ingredients she needs to make it. 

No, it’s not part of my #fridayreads reading (but maybe it should be!). It’s a children’s book and my grand daughter Nina happens to be fascinated with it right now so I read it to her whenever I pick her up from pre-school (where there are several shelves filled with books that parents, grandparents and assorted other caretakers can read in between school and going wherever else they’re going that day).

I like this book not only because it’s a cute story and has the kind of whimsical illustrations Carle is known for, but it also attempts to show children that it isn’t so simple to make a pancake. First you have to have flour (so Jack, the boy, must go out and use a sickle to thresh wheat and a flail to hack the seeds — so many terrific words for children to learn!!). Jack also has to coax the hen into laying an egg, milk the cow and even churn the cream to make butter.

One amazing part of this story is that Jack doesn’t have a meltdown or temper tantrum. He actually does whatever is necessary to find the ingredients needed for the pancake.

Talk about motivated!!

His last chore is to go down to the basement to find some jam, from among the jars of preserves that his mother has stored down there.

He does finally get his pancake. 

I love this book. I love that Jack becomes part of his own wish come true, that he doesn’t seem to mind participating, doing some chore, to get what he wants. I am glad he is rewarded in the end.

But for the rest of us who will not have to thresh or flail the wheat, but can go down to the supermarket and find everything we want there, we fortunate ones who only have to mix ingredients, here’s a really good recipe for pancakes. Serve with jam, the way Jack likes it, or with the more standard maple syrup. 

Here’s a tip: keep buttermilk in the house because it’s terrific for pancakes, biscuits and all sorts of other baked goods. It lasts a long time in the fridge (and you use almost a quart for this recipe). If you don’t want to do that though, you can buy buttermilk powder (reconstitute with water), which you can usually find in the baking aisle of a supermarket. That keeps about a year in the cupboard.

Buttermilk Pancakes

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • butter for frying the pancakes

Melt the 3 tablespoons butter and set aside to cool. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. In a second bowl mix the egg, buttermilk and melted, cooled butter. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ones and mix to blend them but do not beat vigorously. Preheat a griddle or large saute pan over medium heat. Lightly butter the pan before cooking the pancakes. When the pan butter has melted and looks foamy, slowly pour about 2 tablespoons batter (for small pancakes) or more (for larger pancakes), leaving space between each pancake. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until bottom is lightly browned and bubbles form on the top. Flip the pancakes with a rigid spatula and cook for a minute or until the second side is lightly browned.

Makes 6-8 servings