An Olympic Morning of Pancakes…

I love the Olympics… so I made some rings for Atley this morning. The second I put them on her plate, she took them off… placed them on the table, breaking part of a ring. The photo above is her incredibly distraught over the break. Such concern. Made me laugh. She got over it, and ate away. The rings were harder than you’d think, had to do it a few times for that photo above and it’s still not very good. Keep on tryin’…


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Pancake Art: A How-To Guide

That’s Elmo. It’s not a great pancake, but that’s lesson 1 in pancake art… sometimes the finished product doesn’t look so hot. So what. Your kid will still love it. This is my first attempt at a “how-to” blog. News flash, it’s not gonna look so hot either. I chose Elmo because kids love that little monster, and he’s pretty basic to draw. As I emphasized heavily in my “about me” section, I’m not an artist… but you don’t have to be to make your kid smile. I’ve discovered that it’s very difficult to try to document everything I’m doing just by saying “Hey babe, take some pictures of the pancakes while I’m making them” to my wife. Doesn’t work when you’re using a crappy camera phone, and you’ve got a hungry two and a half year old, and an even hungrier 8 month old in the background. So, the photos aren’t great… nor is the documentation. I’ll get better at this… promise. In the meantime, here a glimpse of how I make the pancakes, and I’ll try to walk you through each step that I took to make that Elmo pancake you see above.

The tools.  A griddle. Honestly, I just got this thing. It’s awesome…. but for the majority of my pancake making days… I just had a regular old skillet. Either works fine. A big ole spatula so you don’t spend a bunch of time making an awesome pancake, only to have a bad flip. A squirt bottle thingy. This is the tool that makes the magic happen. This is the part where a light goes off in your head, “Oh…. THAT’s how he does it.” An image of whatever you’re about to draw. I usually pull one up on the iPad or my phone… or one of Atley’s coloring books.

The pancake mix. Really, you can use anything. I use Krusteaz because they sell giant bags of it at Costco and it’s convenient. You can make your own… whatever. The most important thing is how you mix it. This is about involving your little one in the making of the pancakes. My favorite part of all of this is Atley, my daughter, helping me mix up the batter. Before you mix, this next part is essential to preventing clogs…

Sifting. This is an important step, and it’s a great spot to get your kid involved. I have Atley scoop up the mix, and dump it into the sifter. I sift, dump out the large balls of mix that will clog your bottle, the pour in the water and stir. Kids love to mix and stir… let them for a little… then finish it off yourself. Make sure it’s not too runny, but not too thick either. Depending on the exact bottle you have… you may have to play with the consistency of your batter a bit.

Side note: Your kid doesn’t actually have to wear a stethoscope while making pancakes with you… Ok, now it’s time to make the pancake. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the different shades of pancake comes from leaving the batter longer on the griddle. So, whatever you want the darkest in your pancake… is where you start. For Elmo, you want the outline, the center of the eyes, and the mouth the darkest…. followed by the nose, the face, and then the eyes last. The timing of this is a trial and error process based on your griddle and the heat of your burners. It’ll take a few tries to get the hang of it. Here’s Elmo:

There will always be one part of the pancake you want to be the lightest in color. That should be the last thing you fill in, followed by a final flip after only a few seconds of cooking… if you’re worried about the batter being too soft, it will cook on the flip side.

Looks like a blob of crap when you finish filling it in… the moment of truth comes in the flip. I’m a horrible judge on how good a pancake will turn… some that I think will be amazing are awful, and vice versa.

Like I said up top… just an okay pancake. I’ve had better… I’ve had worse. See all that shrapnel off to the side of his face? Splash from the flip. You can totally slice that off with the spatula, a knife, or some kitchen cutting shears to tighten up your performance a bit.

Remember… no two pancakes are the same. Sometimes you mess up on the art… sometimes you burn ‘em… sometimes you start, realize they’re awful, chuck ‘em, and start over. Here’s the first character pancake I ever tried…

Here’s a pretty burnt Elmo that’s not really edible. Griddle was a weee bit too hot.

See? Not pretty. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section for anything I didn’t cover and I will answer all of them. Remember, this isn’t about making an amazing pancake… it’s about making amazing memories with your kids.


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The Pancake Dad… What an Awful Name for a Blog

My name’s Brady.  That’s my daughter Atley.  I’m just a normal dude with a regular job and a family that I love.  Sound familiar?  Most likely, since you’re here.  Atley is two and a half, and she loves pancakes. Me, I love to make her smile. One day while we colored, she asked me to draw several of her favorite cartoon characters.  Well, I obliged to the best of my ability, an ability which…stopped improving at…well…at about her age.  I suck at drawing.  Despite this…she loved it.  She recognized the characters, even insisted on more.  Good kid.  Still potty training, yet already grasps the nuances of advanced positive re-enforcement.  I was giddy.  So, knowing she loved pancakes AND my pitiable artwork too, I wondered if I could make some of those characters into pancakes.

So, I started trying.  My artist creativity is so limited, it’s reasonable to say I have none.  That’s the closest actual amount.   I can’t draw anything from my mind, it’s rather shameful.  So, I pulled up some pictures on my phone and sketched, best I could, from those images.   I traced images from my phone… onto the griddle.  Saturday mornings I’d ask what she wanted for breakfast. “Pancakes!!!”  I’d ask her what kind of pancakes? “Elmo!” she’d yell.   Or “Cat in the Hat!” or “Yo Gabba Gabba!”  So, yeah…I needed to figure out a way to get her favorites… onto a pancake.  I started experimenting…

I figured I’d throw these “experiments” up on Facebook, knowing I wasn’t the first to modify the classic round flapjack into a cooler shape, and thought nothing more of it.  Turns out…I wasn’t as impressed with myself as my Facebook friends were.  And, at their urging, I decided to start a blog about these pancakes.  I’ll do my best to explain how I create them, mix in some relevant anecdotes perhaps… and you’ll soon discover, clearly, anybody can do it.  That’s it.

In my efforts, I’ve discovered I’m a bit of a pancake purist.  You say snob, I say purist.  IT’S MY BLOG.  I prefer no food coloring in the batter. I try not using fruits or whip cream or chocolate chips or whatever else to spruce-up these ‘cakes. You can if you choose to.  My tools are 1.  the batter, 2. a squirt bottle, and a distant 3rd…  my expanding skills.  Recall, I’m no artist… and neither are you, most likely. But, guess what… drumroll/spoiler alert…. your kid doesn’t care.  Give it a try, the smile’s worth it. They don’t have to be perfect. Believe me… I made a Jabba the Hut pancake and Atley gave a gigantic grin and yelled “Walrus!!” … then, seeing my subdued reaction… “Seal?” What a great kid.  Moral of the story… make your kid watch Star Wars first.  Either way, get to that griddle and they’ll love ‘em whether you’re good or not.  That’s what I do every Saturday (and some Sundays)… and my life is better for it. Hopefully yours will be too.  Enjoy the site.

-Brady, The Pancake Dad

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