And Then There Were Pancakes

Sour Cream Pancakes

Last weekend my Dad turned 60. He decided to throw a party out in West Marin at Nick’s Cove right on the Bay. They have a great rustic restaurant with awesome barbecued oysters, an amazing view  and little cabins right on the water. My sisters flew in, friends were invited, meals were planned, booze was purchased, gifts were procured, speeches written, and toothbrushes were packed.

nick's cove

To start off the night, we had cocktails out in the boat house at dusk. Champagne, vodka, calamari, oldies on the Pandora radio, rain pattering away on the roof, everyone catching up on each others’ lives. And then, the power went out. Cheers erupt. We lit candles. We settled back in. How fun! We’ll never forget this party! How romantic! After about a half hour, we were  escorted back up to the very dark restaurant. Most other tables had cleared out by this time. But our group–we were still thinking: How fun! We’ll never forget this party! How romantic! We sat down at our long table, started drinking wine, and then the waiter came up for a chat. It became quite clear pretty quickly that the power wasn’t coming back. There would be no dinner. They had bread and  butter and a bit of romaine left in the kitchen so some people could have a salad. And of course, the chocolate cake we brought. It was about this time that my sister Rachael ordered a round of whiskey for the table.

dad's birthday My sister Rachael, Dad, other sister Zoe, Me

Well one whiskey turned into another turned into another and another. And some wine and a few vodka tonics and a lot of bread and butter and chocolate cake and maybe even a cigarette. It couldn’t have been a better party. As you can imagine, the next morning was rough. Zoe, my youngest sister, had slept on the bathroom floor; I managed to polish off a bag of M & M’s in my sleep (a talent, if you ask me); and belongings and shoes were strewn about. We were all pretty hungover. The first priority? Get to a greasy diner, of course.

marin

And then when you get to said greasy diner and you can’t decide between a patty melt or pancakes, and it’s seeming like one of the most pressing decisions of your life? You order both. And I have to tell you, a pancake has never tasted so good. It probably has a lot to do with the above circumstances, but nevertheless, it made me grab for Marion Cunningham’s fabulous The Breakfast Book the day after we got home to search out a good, classic recipe to make the next time I’m craving pancakes. After we got home, Zoe and I took the world’s most epic nap and we all watched some bad reality TV and ate more birthday cake. It was, hands down, a very fine party. From the candlelit speeches to that last Lemon Drop that sent us all over the edge–Happy Birthday to one incredible Dad. And a shout-out to two sisters who really know how to get down. And now: pancakes!

These pancakes are much more civilized than your typical hangover pancakes, but the nice thing about The Breakfast Book is that Marion Cunningham covers it all: from ginger pancakes to apple pancakes to waffles, muffins, coffeecake…if you don’t own this sweet little book, I highly recommend it. Before you make these, do know that they’re not your typical ‘light as a feather’ buttermilk pancakes. They’re light in a very different way: in an eggy, almost custardy way. I actually think they fall more into the crepe family than the pancake family. The recipe’s perfect as is, although I did add a bit of lemon zest to give them a fresh, wintry flavor and I decreased the amount of sour cream just by a smidge after a few experimental batches. I think you’ll find them quite suitable for your next hangover breakfast or for the very finest and fresh-faced  morning company.

Sour Cream Pancakes

Sour Cream Pancakes

  • Yield: 40 to 50 silver dollar pancakes or roughly 20 larger pancakes
  • Prep time: 10 mins
  • Cook time: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins

Marion Cunningham calls these ‘Bridge Creek Heavenly Hots’ in her book, and she recommends making them silver-dollar size and serving them piping hot. I made them a little more generous in size, but agree that a healthy serving of butter and maple syrup always melts better on right-off-the griddle pancakes. One technical suggestion: after the butter gets piping hot in your pan, turn down the heat to medium so you don’t burn the pancakes. Since there’s more moisture in this recipe than in most pancake recipes, the centers take a little longer to cook.

Very slightly adapted from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
Zest from one lemon (about 1 teaspoon)

Instructions

Put the eggs in a mixing bowl and stir until well blended. Add the salt, baking soda, flour, sour cream, and sugar and mix well. Heat a griddle or frying pan until it’s good and hot, add a clump of butter and drop small spoonfuls of batter on the to the griddle. Leave enough space in between each one so they can spread out just a bit. When  few bubbles appear on the surface, turn over and cook the other side just briefly.

Comments

  1. sk

    That's so funny-- I just made these last weekend! I'll definitely try making them bigger next time. They were so yummy-- didn't even need syrup I thought.
    Sounds like an AWESOME party with your family!

  2. Janet

    What a party! Ha! That's one you'll remember, for sure. I especially love the part about the M&Ms. ;)

    I totally want pancakes for dinner now. These sounds delicious!

  3. jen maiser

    Heh. I, too, have ended up at Pinecone Diner on a rough morning. It's one of the best places to end up.

  4. Lauren (PB&G)

    Haha whiskey gets me every time but I love the stuff! Sounds like a great party!

  5. Dana

    Mmm I bet these pancakes were great. Sour cream seems to go into everything in our house, so why not pancakes?

    A greasy spoon diner will always cure what ails you

  6. Zoe

    fantastic encapsulation of a seriously awesome party and the delicious aftermath...shout out to you (and ray) for truly knowing how to get down without ending up on the bathroom floor! wish i was closer for some pancakes in your new pad! miss you already, sending lots of love.

  7. Nicole

    The thing I love about going out for breakfast is it is really the only meal where you can say would I rather have pancakes, or eggs with bacon, or maybe a cinnamon roll? Then you can say I will take them all and no one will even bat an eye.
    At home however I always struggle with Pancakes. Overcooked or undercooked, I just can't get them right. I don't know how some restaurants churn out hundreds of them every morning.

  8. Janae

    This post made me laugh; sounds like you had a great time! And mmmm, pancakes. I can never get enough of those...

  9. Mary

    There is nothing like a greasy-spoon to sop it all up. It is one of the best places to end up, as your friend says. Great post + pics.

  10. Sally

    LOVE the sound of this, what a great weekend!

  11. Joy

    What a great time with your family! Happy birthday to your dad. :)

    Ok, next time I have extra sour cream, I will make this. And I really need that breakfast book. God knows I don't eat it enough! The meal, not the book. Ha ha.

  12. Anne Zimmerman

    Love this story! If everything had been perfect, it might not have been as fun. There's a lesson there, I think ...

  13. Katie

    Great story! And a memorable weekend!
    I rented a house a few doors down from Nick's Cove with friends this past fall (we could see the bar at Nick's Cove at the end of the dock from our place). At about 11:00 pm Sat night the power went out, out of the blue--in our place and all the neighboring houses. We'd already eaten and were well into the wine at that point...it was fun to be in the dark, no flashlights, no candles (other than a leftover birthday cake candle). There must be something up with the power in that area??
    Those pancakes look excellent!

    1. megang

      That's too funny, Katie! Really? I was actually kind or surprised they didn't have a back-up generator, especially since people were staying there. And it really wasn't all that stormy. Maybe they do that with all the guests to save on food costs :)

  14. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Sounds like a fun party, and the perfect way to celebrate!

    Love the look of these pancakes... I just might have to make some this weekend!

  15. Maddie

    You guys sound too fun. :) This totally makes me want to break out my copy of "The Breakfast Book," too!

  16. leela

    these look so freakin tasty!

    get in my belly!

    xx
    Leela

  17. Debra

    how much cake flour?

  18. A Canadian Foodie

    Happy Birthday DADDY! He probably aged 5 years that night!
    Wonderful story! Yummy looking pancakes!
    Next year, eat somewhere you can cook over a fire!
    :)
    valerie

    1. megang

      I know, Valerie. Or...as one of my coworkers asked, "why didn't you order pizzas?" Good thought. Very wise thought...

  19. Alicia

    Haha sounds like a great time! And that is quite the talent, perhaps the M&M's disappeared on their own..haha. Nevertheless those pancakes look perfect and oh-so-delicious! They're the top priority next weekend after I get back from Mexico. No stacks of pancakes before then! (bathing suit wearing and all)

  20. Dana

    Clearly, I need to party with your family in the very near future. So glad you had fun and also that you recovered. I miss you!

    1. megang

      Thanks, Dana. Miss you, too! Trying to plan a Seattle trip to visit my sister in late, late spring. Will keep you posted!

  21. Denise | Chez Danisse

    Oh my gosh, your party, and especially post-party, descriptions are superb. I love the bit about polishing off the M & M’s in your sleep. Excellent. Thanks for putting a smile on my face.

  22. Deena

    It is so wonderful that we can do a lot with pancakes when it comes to flavor... At the house I used to prepare pancakes for breakfast especially if I am on the rush but still the nutrition of my kids is not being sacrificed.

  23. Teaya

    Made these this morning and they are fabulous! Light and flavorful, thanks for the great recipe and keep them coming! Happy birthday to your Dad!

  24. Danielle

    Hee hee hee, I'll never tire of this tale! And what is this miraculous talent of polishing off M&Ms in your sleep? Do you give lessons? ;)

    1. megang

      Absolutely no recollection whatsoever. :)

  25. Adriana from Baking Powders

    sounds like a crazy awesome bday party! how cool! and the pancakes... got me drooling! good at any time of the day, breakfast, lunch, dinner, post-drinking midnight craving... i love them all!

  26. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    I wish I knew how to eat M&Ms in my sleep! The calories from those don't count, right? ;-) Happy belated birthday to your dad - sounds like he raised a bunch of party girls!!

  27. Emma

    Lovely pancakes and nice to see people who know how to party! Happy birthday to your dad :)

  28. Sweets By Vicky

    You're absolutely right when you say the best thing for a hangover is a greasy diner! And when that's not handy, good old Chinese takeout is a useful second option!

    I love homemade pancakes, I'll definitely be making them just not when I'm hungover. ;)

  29. Sprinzette

    I've only just stumble across your blog - but this looks great. You've inspired me to give pancakes a go for my next lazy weekend breakfast!

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