Pancakes for Leigh

I have a confession: I just learned how to make great pancakes (that didn’t come from a mix) in the past year.

I know, I know. But for some reason, pancakes eluded me. I grew up on Bisquick – my mom loves me, of that I have no doubt, but, well, let’s put it this way, she wasn’t exactly one of those women. You know the type (as do I, as I am one): That woman who wants to cook, loves to cook, gets insulted if you won’t let her cook. This woman not only doesn’t mind cooking, she looks forward to it. She actually makes the recipes she finds on Pinterest.

Yeah, my mom is so not that mom. I blame it on her half-not-Italian side, which comes from my grandmother. I loved my grandmother dearly but the only thing I ever remember her making was fried fish on Friday nights. I get my passion for food from my other grandmother; this one gave me my firmly entrenched liberal leanings and red tints in my hair. It’s not a bad trade-off.

Bisquick ingredients
Partially hydrogenated pancakes, just like mom used to make.

The point is, my mom didn’t see the need to make pancakes from scratch when a mix would do just fine. And it did, for years. I never complained, and if she offers to make me pancakes tomorrow, I still won’t. But I wanted to know how to make my own pancakes – from scratch. Box mixes cost more than ingredients, and they have all sorts of lovely other things in them that may or may not kill you faster than you’d like.

  • Nevertheless, as an adult, all my pancakes either didn’t fluff up or tasted like ass, and I never knew why. In all honesty, I still don’t. Well, OK, there *was* that one time I used the evaporated milk by accident (in place of batter I’d mixed and stored in the refrigerator in an identical container), but other than that, no clue. Even when they were just not tasty, I didn’t know why. One thing was clear, though: No one was requesting my pancakes every Sunday morning. Bisquick would have been a huge improvement for me.

    Finally, a few months ago I offered to make El Cap pancakes, an offer which he hesitantly accepted (he’s tasted my pancake attempts before, because he’s my guinea pig for everything, and bless his northern European heritage, his stomach can only take so much.) I stumbled onto a recipe, but realized I didn’t have quite enough milk on hand, so I modified it based on what I did have, and – voila! – I made the best pancakes I had ever tasted. What happened? I have no clue. I suspect, however, it’s the cream.

    So why do I call these “Leigh’s Pancakes” if she had nothing to do with them? Because my friend Leigh has it in her head she can’t make pancakes worth a damn. She’s probably right; I don’t know, as I’ve not tasted hers. For the record, her husband agrees with her when she says she can’t make them, so you know it must not be a pretty sight when she tried. I feel her pain, and so I’m posting this recipe for her and all of you out there who, just like me, are ashamed to admit you are pancake-deficient. It will be OK; I promise. As for the rest of you? Don’t judge us. We can’t help who we are.


  • 1 1/2 c. White Lily All-Purpose flour (the brand matters because of the wheat’s origin)
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 c. skim milk
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbs butter, melted


  1. Lightly oil a nonstick pan or griddle (I use a cast iron flat pan) and heat to medium-high heat.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Make a well in the center into which you pour your wet ingredients.
  4. Mix only until smooth.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup soup ladle, pour the batter onto the griddle.
  6. When the edges are solid, flip once. Cook until spatula slides easily under pancake and color is dark gold.
  7. The first pancake is ALWAYS a throwaway as it tends toward the oily. This is OK; your dog will love it. You will not.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.

0 thoughts on “Pancakes for Leigh”

  1. thank you for your recipe! this whole week in Russia there is, traditionally, a festival to send off the rough and cold winter and to welcome the spring. people set up carnivals in the street and burn fires to ward off the winter lady. and, the pancakes/crepes are the symbols of the returning sun! so they have to come out celebratorily fat, festive, buttery and delicious!

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