Orange Cranberry Pancakes

It’s November and I live in a cranberry-producing part of the world, so I’ve been playing with cranberries. This morning I finished a batch of candied cranberries, which left behind a jar of beautiful cranberry simple syrup. Yesterday I was experimenting with cranberry infusions, and I had some leftover cranberry bits from that. I thought I’d make something easy that would soak up all these random cranberry leftovers. Voila! Cranberry orange whole wheat pancakes.

The pancake recipe is taken from the July/August 2015 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (“Really Good Whole-Wheat Pancakes”). The key to good whole wheat pancakes, Andrea Geary argues, is to use fresh flour. If your whole wheat flour is fresh, you don’t even need to add in white flour. And unlike white flour, you can “overmix” whole wheat flour pancake batter and nothing happens. An oversimplified explanation is that whole wheat flour still contains bran, which is sharp and gets in the way of gluten formation.

I served these with Grand Marnier whipped cream and some of the aforementioned cranberry syrup, but even without the fancy toppings, they are really good. I would eat them plain. (Correction: I did eat some of them plain.)

Orange Cranberry Whole Wheat Pancakes
2 C (11 oz) whole wheat flour
2 TBS white sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
*spices to taste (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves; see note in directions)
2¼ C buttermilk
5 TBS vegetable or canola oil, plus oil for pan
2 eggs
zest from 1 orange
¼ C finely chopped fresh cranberries (I’m sure frozen or dried would be fine)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. 
*I never measure my spices but it’s my personal belief that whole wheat pancakes should always have at least a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon; in this case, I thought clove would also complement the orange. Cardamom would be good too. You should have more cinnamon than the other two (a generous teaspoon perhaps), and slightly more nutmeg than cloves (you could do a half-teaspoon of nutmeg and a quarter-teaspoon of cloves, for example). It is possible to overdo spices, but you have a wide margin of error to work within, so don’t stress it.
2. In a smaller bowl or a very large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, oil, and eggs.
3. Before combining the dry and wet ingredients, prep and heat your frying pan or skillet. If you’re using a pan, I recommend pouring a small amount of oil in it, then using a clean paper towel to wipe down the inside of the pan. This coats the pan evenly and prevents the “first pancake = fried pancake” phenomenon (where the first pancake soaks up all the extra oil). Heat to the cooler side of medium, about the same temp you would use to sauté garlic or cook scrambled eggs.
4. Back to the batter: Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and pour in the wet ingredients. Add the orange zest and cranberry bits. Using a whisk or spatula, mix them together. Mix as much as you want! Your pancakes will still be fluffy!
5. Put about a quarter-cup of batter in your hot pan at a time. Flip when the edges look a little dry. Brown to your liking. If you’re not serving immediately, keep pancakes stacked under a towel or in a warm oven. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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