Honey Oat Pancakes

I turned 25 this year and my quarter-life milestone (fingers crossed) coincided with a lot of changes. I started a new job. I joined a soccer team for the first time in 8 years. I started using anti-aging eye cream. I went blonde for 4 months, then back to brunette. I shelled out the cash for DVR.

But let’s focus on the soccer, shall we? I hadn’t played since high school when I started again this spring. I wasn’t very good but I had a lot of fun. . . if you call head-to-toe muscle soreness for 43% of your life “fun.” All kidding aside, I am so glad I started up again. I am also surprised and delighted that my team agreed to have me back for the fall season and didn’t try to pass me off on some other suckers in the pre-season draft.

When the season started two weeks ago, I wanted to make a good impression on my teammates. Kick some ass and show them I ate my Wheaties that morning. Only I don’t eat Wheaties. I chose to eat this instead. I am oh so glad I did.

These whole wheat pancakes have a touch of honey in the batter and hearty oats throughout. The hint of orange zest wakes you up , and the wholesome grains keep you full all morning. I ran ninety minutes while full of energy and I wasn’t hungry after, so these pancakes clearly go to work for you.

Honey Oat Pancakes (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • Cooking spray

Preparation:

  1. Combine dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl.
  2. Add wet ingredients (milk through egg) and stir to combine. Add the orange zest and stir.
  3. Heat a pan or electric griddle over low-medium heat. Coat with cooking spray.
  4. Drop pancake batter on heated pan for desired size pancakes. When air bubbles are visible throughout the pancake and the bottom turns golden brown, flip over and cook for another minute or two more, then remove to a plate.

Whole wheat pancakes tend to be a little on the dry side, so make sure you have toppings available. Maple syrup, drizzled honey, Greek yogurt, fresh fruit or fruit compote work well.

Not a bad discovery for 25. I loved these so much I made them twice in one week. I suppose there are worse habits you could pick up. Do yourself a favor and make these pancakes this weekend. Who knows what you will be inspired to do?

And for that matter. . . Who knows what color my hair will be next? Who knows if this eye cream is actually working? Who knows if I’ll ever be good at soccer again?

At least the pancakes are a sure thing.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

Today I tackled one of my most intimidating challenges yet.

Bread!

I have said before that I am not a baker. Really, I do my best work on top of the stove, and generally the area inside the oven is a scary place for me. I do a few things well, like pizza (with store-bought crust), scones (from scratch), and the occasional batch of cookies. Recently I’ve added to my repertoire: granola, oatmeal breakfast cookies, and brown rice pizza crust. I’ve had more than my share of burnt cookies, drippy frosting, and leaning towers of cake. I have even given up halfway through a recipe because it seemed that success just wasn’t in the stars that day.

The main reason I have so many baking disaster stories is that. . . I keep trying. After all the sticky dough, crumbly muffins, and icing explosions, I still try new recipes in an attempt to learn a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me. I flour the counter and fire up the hand mixer, knowing that the chances are far greater that I will be fanning the smoke detector than creating a masterpiece. That’s okay, because it makes me enjoy the surprising successes even more.

So it came about that I felt a strong urge to conquer one of my greatest baking fears: yeast. I have had so many issues with getting bread dough to the right consistency and to rise properly that I was almost ready to give up on yeast entirely, and resign myself to a life of quick breads only. I don’t know what got into me this weekend but I decided I was going to go for it one. more. time.

I found a fantastic recipe here, courtesy of Budget Bytes. I made my dough exactly as Beth describes in her post, placed it in an oiled bowl, covered it, and let it rise for about an hour. While the dough was rising, I ran out to the store to get a new pan. I read somewhere that a baking tin is better for making bread than the standard non-stick loaf pans that I have in my pantry. Whether that claim is true or not, this tin made me feel like I knew what I was doing.

Next, I sprayed the tin with olive oil, patted down and kneaded the dough and formed it into a loaf that fit inside the tin. By the way, this tin is 12″ long and about 4″ wide. I think it’s about 4 inches tall too.

I covered the pan and let the dough rise a second time, for about 45 minutes. When I uncovered the pan it looked like this.

Looking good, no? I was so happy that so far it was working. The hard part was over and now all I had to do was pop it in the oven for 35 minutes at 425 degrees F. I might have let it get a little too crispy, but I was still very pleased with the end result.

A beautiful loaf of sandwich bread!

This bread is dense enough to slice thinly and still hold up to sandwich ingredients, but soft enough to enjoy alone. The outside has a nice crisp crust and the inside has a very fine crumb. And the taste. . . the taste! It has that nutty graininess that you get from whole wheat flour, with just a hint of sweetness from the honey. The yeast is more pronounced in this loaf than in the store-bought pre-packaged and pre-sliced varieties. If I could be attentive to the process for 4 hours one day a week, I might never buy bread again.

So today’s lesson, kids, is about perseverance. You have to burn a lot of rolls before you find your honey wheat sandwich bread, but it’s out there and you will find it someday. The one recipe that breaks down barriers in the kitchen: for me it’s bread, for you it might be barbecue. The point is if I (Smokey the Baker) can do it, so can you!

Have a successful week!