Heavenly Hots

Yes, PANCAKES are numero five on Google's most-requested recipe list.  And while I always loved pancakes as a kid, we never ate them at home.  Instead we enjoyed my mother's crepe-like palascintas (she was Hungarian) and ventured out to IHOP as a special treat. (We also had Christmas brunch there this year!) My brother and I ate buttermilk pancakes (I'm sure I had mine with strawberries), but my mother ate IHOP's version of palascintas! -- elegant crepes drenched in a faux Grand Marnier syrup.  My dad ate hash, sausage and bacon.  As I recall, his cholesterol was surprisingly low.  But most people eat pancakes at home.  Only this year did I create a pancake recipe for Radically Simple, where the batter rises slowly overnight -- much in the way that a yeast-bread rises -- allowing for concentrated flavor and lots of air bubbles that result in supernal fluffiness.  These pancakes are the yin to the yang of Marion Cunninghams' "Heavenly Hots" -- my favorite pancake experience of all time.  I first had them at the Bridge Creek Restaurant one morning, in Berkeley, California, when I was alone on a business trip. John Hudspeth was the chef and owner and a dear friend of Marion's:  She was the original Fanny Farmer and one of the most loved women in the food world. (I later became of friend of Marion's and dearly enjoyed my time with her near her home in Walnut Creek, CA and when she visited New York.)  I recall the first bite of the aptly-named "heavenly hot."  I swooned.  Everyone did.  For these small delicate pancakes seemed to levitate, then slowly disappear on your tongue. Thanks to Marion's lovely book, "The Breakfast Book," signed to 'Michael and Rozanne' in 1987, (we had just gotten married), the inclusion of this special recipe makes it possible to eat them at home. In her sweet headnote Marion writes, "These are the lightest sour cream silver-dollar-size hotcakes I've ever had -- they seem to hover over the plate.  They are heavenly and certainly should be served hot."

Bridge Creek Heavenly Hots According to Marion, this recipe yields fifty to sixty small pancakes!

4 eggs 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 cup cake flour 2 cups sour cream 3 tablespoons sugar

Put the eggs in a mixing bowl and stir until well blended.  Add the salt, baking soda, flour, sour cream, and sugar.  Mix well.  All of this can be done in a blender, if you prefer.  Heat a griddle or frying pan until it is good and hot, film with grease, and drop small spoonfuls of batter onto the griddle -- just enough to spread to an approximately 2-1/2-inch round.  When a few bubbles appear on top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook briefly.  Makes 50 to 60 silver-dollar size pancakes

The Best "Overnight" Pancakes

Thick and fluffy as bath towels, my new formulation for making pancakes allows both you, and the batter, to rise slowly in the morning.  Self-rising flour and extra baking powder provide the levitation; buttermilk, vanilla and olive oil provide the flavor.  The batter should be used within 15 hours of making and so the optimal timing would be to prepare the batter just before you go to bed.  Make it at 10:00 p.m. and presto, the voluminous batter will be perfect for your oil-slicked frying pan anytime before noon the next day.  A big diner-size griddle would be the best way to cook these but I don't happen to have one.  Instead I just add a sheen of olive oil (yes! -- I use it in the batter, too) to my largest nonstick frying pan and make them three at a time.  I'm a one-handed flapjack flipper.  The other hand is reserved for a large mug of very strong coffee, tightly held, until the last drop of batter is used.   This recipe yields about 14 pancakes making it possible to invite 4 to 6 hungry guests to linger around your breakfast table.  Given the timing of the operation, these would best be served on weekends. Drizzle on your best maple syrup (at our house we use Grade B syrup because it has the best flavor) or top with fresh blueberries, briefly cooked in simple syrup (sugar boiled in water until dissolved). In winter, when bananas and strawberries-from-somewhere are available, I dice both fruits into grade A maple syrup, add chopped roasted almonds, and cook it until the fruit gently perfumes the syrup.  It, too, is radically simple to prepare. Double-Rise Pancakes with Strawberries, Bananas & Almonds 2 extra-large eggs 1 cup buttermilk 3 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan 1-1/2 cups self-rising cake flour

1 cup real maple syrup 1 cup finely diced bananas 1 cup finely diced strawberries 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds

In a blender, combine the eggs, buttermilk, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, 2 tablespoons oil, flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Blend until smooth.  Place the covered blender in the refrigerator overnight.  Whirl the batter in the blender before using.  Combine the syrup, bananas, and strawberries in medium saucepan.  Cook 5 minutes over high heat, stirring often.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the almonds.  Heat a griddle (or very large frying pan); brush with oil.  Stir the batter; ladle by 1/4 cups onto the griddle, leaving space between the pancakes.  Cook until browned, 3 minutes; turn, cook until golden, 2 minutes longer.  Serve with the topping and remaining almonds.  Serves 4 to 6