A certain someone just turned 3!
It's so hard to believe, and oh! the feelings I have about it. Pretty soon he'll be buttoning up his shirts and tying his own shoes, and then it'll be first dates, driving permits, and the grocery bill of a teenage boy's appetite. Hold me.
But before I get a little too far ahead of myself, let's talk about what our little Crew really loves right now: pancakes.
If he had it his way, this boy would eat pancakes every day of his life. So naturally, on the morning of his third birthday (and it being a Saturday, especially so) we made him a big stack of these citrusy oat pancakes.
He likes them slathered with melty, salty butter that pools on top and hot maple syrup spooned over. And he wastes no time to begin asking for a second before the first is even finished.
The kid knows what's good.
We've tried dozens of pancake recipes in our house, but always come back to this one. It was first inspired by a Smitten Kitchen recipe featuring sour cream and caramelized peaches (excellent for summer, by the way) that we've tweaked over time and made our own. Crew's got quite the sweet tooth, that one, but doesn't seem to mind if his mama tosses yogurt, whole grain flours, and gobs of citrus zest into the batter.
These are perfect for wintertime when there's plenty of citrus around at the market. The bit of brightness it lends here is a welcome antidote to these greyest of days. Use whatever you can find - oranges, tangerines, satsumas, or those tangy little clementines. We zest the rind into our pancakes and then cut up slices to eat alongside.
Of note, this recipe only makes 11ish pancakes. If you've got a big eater in the house (Crew regularly goes for 5 and sometimes even 6!), you may want to double it. The first time we made this, the husband and I were about ready to hide our precious 2.5 pancakes each under the table and snatch little bites when Crew wasn't looking.
And sometimes, when we're feeling fancy, we like to cut up slices of banana and place a few in each pancake once the batter has set in the pan. Give them a flip and they'll caramelize with the butter in the pan and turn sticky sweet. I think you'll be pleased.
Oh, to be 3. To be curious, eager, obstinate, and full of wonder. In honesty, motherhood is more exhausting than ever and I sometimes find myself wishing away the challenges, wanting it to be easy. There are plenty of tears, moments of waning patience, and deep breaths mustered. There are hardships I didn't expect. But, the joys. Thank goodness for the joys! They somehow seem to rise above all else. When my family gathers around the table, pulling pancakes from the stack and laughing with our mouths full, that's when I know it's going to be okay. That's the good stuff. And I remind myself that things are just as they should be.
citrusy oat pancakes // makes about 11 (3-4 inches each)
These are just the thing to wake up to on a dark winter's morning. The brightness of the citrus really comes through here. You could use any combination of flours depending on what you've got - we add spelt, barley, or rye to the mix from time to time - but usually stick with a 2/3 whole grain : 1/3 refined grain ratio to optimize whole grains but maintain some fluffiness. If you use Greek yogurt here, be sure to add a little more milk. Oh! And if you're feeding a hungry crowd, definitely double or even triple the batch.
1 cup (8 oz/230 g) plain whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons (25 g) organic cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
citrus zest, to taste (I often use about 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, loosely packed)
1/4 cup (32 g) oat flour
1/4 cup (32 g) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (32 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
butter for the pan
Preheat your oven to 250°F. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, and citrus zest together. In a smaller bowl, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold them together gently until just combined (and maybe still a bit lumpy).
Set your skillet on the heat to medium (or medium-low if your burner tends to run hot). Melt a little knob of butter in the bottom of the pan and pour in about 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake, leaving at least an inch or two between them. When the edges begin to dry and pull away slightly, rotate them in the pan with your spatula to brown evenly. (You can skip this if your stove tends to heat pretty evenly across the pan.) Once bubbles begin to form on top, go ahead and give them a quick flip. Repeat on the other side and cook until the pancakes are cooked through and golden brown on both sides. If they begin to brown too quickly, lower your heat.
Transfer each batch of finished pancakes to a cooling rack and place them in the warm oven. (I like using a cooling rack here because heat and air can circulate underneath and prevent them from becoming soggy, but a sheet pan would work fine too.) Continue to cook the pancakes in batches, likely needing to add a little knob of butter and lower the heat between each batch. Keep warm in the oven until all the pancakes are cooked and you're ready to eat. Serve with plenty of salty butter and hot maple syrup.