May 4, 2006

Puffy Pancake

Description:
My Better Homes cookbook was on it's last legs so Rob told me I could buy a new one as a Christmas present from him. I finally got around to ordering one in January some time, but I, for some reason, ordered a Better Homes cookbook by mistake and was dismayed that it was entirely different from what I had wanted.

However, this cloud came with a really tasty silver lining. It's generally the pancake section of all of my cookbooks that is the first to go and so of course it was to the pancake section that I first turned. They didn't have a single normal pancake recipe but there is a recipe for a "Puffed Oven Pancake" (which was the only recipe that I had all the ingredients for, so I went for it).

The Puffy Pancake has since become our all time favorite breakfast as well as a really enjoyable dinner on two occasions. It takes me all of 2 minutes (max.) to whip up, 20 minutes to cook and maybe a minute or two of cleanup. Who could ask for a better warm breakfast?

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1/2 cup flour (i use whole wheat)
1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt
some butter for the pan
fruit or jam or some such for a topping

Directions:
This recipe makes just enough for the three kids for breakfast. If I want to include myself then I double the recipe. I use a medium sized cast iron pan for a single recipe and a larger pan for a double recipe. (The cast iron cleans up much easier. It really puts the Calphalon to shame.) The key to your pan choice is that it should be able to go into the oven. I'm sure a casserole pan might work.

Throw some butter (the recipe book says 2 tablespoons but I always just throw in a wad -- that's a technical term for just the right amount of butter) into the pan and put the pan in the oven (which should be set to 350 degrees).

Throw the eggs, flour, milk and salt into a small bowl (I just use a measuring cup with high sides) and mix thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Once the butter is melted, pour the mixture into the pan and let bake for about 20 minutes (until puffy and very slightly browned).

For breakfast I but about a teaspoonful of jam on each kids third of the pancake. For dinner I heat two bags worth of frozen fruit and add a bit of jam to sweeten the mixture. I then pour the warmed fruit over the pancake and serve. (I can't wait till summer when I can use fresh fruit!)

We don't use syrup on our puffy pancakes. The jam is enough to sweeten the dish, which makes this a pretty nutritious meal without all the sugar that's often in breakfast cereals or poured (in the form of syrup) over the usual pancake, waffle or french toast meals.

88 comments:

  1. You have re-discovered the popover, aka the giant version of the Yorkshire Pudding.

    :)

    Aloha mai Nai`a!

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  2. Does not look like any pancake I've ever seen rofl. Looks a bit like a dropped souffle or an omelette

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  3. yes, it's basically just a monster popover. but i've never gotten my popovers to rise very well with whole wheat flour and this seems to do just fine.

    is that really what yorkshire pudding is? just a big puffy pancake?

    it's more like a bready quiche than an omelette, but it's not particularly savory with all the jam or fruit on it.

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  4. what i love about the pancake is that it puffs differently every time, even though i'm using the same oven, the same temp, the same ingredients and the same pan.

    there are middle of the pancake puffs and multiply puffs vs. single puffs. and there are times when the puff decides instead to become a side and the whole thing becomes a giant pancake bowl.

    i'd love to know the science behind what ____ makes what kind of puff. do you have any sense of that, Darryl?

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  5. (Manually edited to fix quote. Again.)
    I can't wait till summer when I can use fresh fruit!
    - barefootmegWhy do you have to wait until summer to use fresh fruit?

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  6. because the only fresh fruit in these parts in times other than summer is hauled in from mexico or further.

    our growing season hasn't even started yet. we can plant broccoli and other hardy veggies like that, but our last frost date is may 15th.

    and i won't get any peaches this year off our tree because the cold winter killed off all the blossoms. :-( between the squirrels, the late snow last year, and the below zero temps this year, we've yet to get more than one peach off that poor tree.

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  7. Aha! This Sunday's breakfast...

    Looks yummy and very... unpancakish.

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  8. oooh...that looks yummy and fun!

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  9. we'd already had puffy pancake three times this week (and fried mochi with maple syrup once) so when i asked the kids what they wanted for breakfast this morning i fully expected to hear cereal or toast or more mochi. instead they asked for yet more puffy pancake.

    i'm starting to think that we could live off of puffy pancake variations for several months before we'd get tired of it. :-)

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  10. I have this recipe too and I make it on Sunday mornings :) I just cover it with powdered sugar and serve

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  11. that's always the way. i never seem to have all the ingredients for anything...but it's awesome that you found something you all liked so much.

    i do have to try it. something intriguing about making a pancake in the oven.

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  12. What's going on is air bubbles and proteins forming a structure in your pancake. When you're whisking the mix, you're incorporating air bubbles into the batter. As the batter bakes, those air bubbles are set in place when the structural components of the batter (the proteins from the wheat and the eggs) set. Then, as the air trapped in them heats those bubbles expand[1]. Depending on the size of the bubble, its placement in the batter, etc. you'll get differing shapes and contours in the finished product.



    [1] - The idea gas formula is PV=nRT, where P=atmospheric pressure on the gas, V=volume, n=amount of gas molecules in moles, R=the ideal gas constant and T=temperature in kelvins. If we solve for V we get V=(nRT)/P, which tells us that, as the absolute temperature increases, volume increases at a constant rate. If the air starts at 298K (room temperature of about 25C, or 75F) and cooks to 470K (176C, or 350F) you have a size increase of 577% in volume for each bubble.

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  13. mcpierce said
    blah blah blah

    yeah, but what makes it decide to fly up the side one day and puff in the center the next? your explanation would make sense to me if every day there were just a different series of puffs throughout the pancake, but there are days the pancake turns into a bowl and other days nothing really creeps up the side at all. i've gotta believe it has something to do with the preheated level of the pan or something....

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  14. OH MY GOD! IT IS THE PANCAKE RECIPE I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!!! WOWWWWW! It looks like the perfect fusion of fried dough and pancake, or something like that.

    I am very excited! :-)

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  15. Sorry, I thought I had said in there that it's the distribution of those air bubbles incorporated into the batter that causes the uneven rising; i.e., if you get more bubbles on the outer areas than the middle then you'll have a bowl, if more are in the middle you'll have a pocket, etc. The more you whisk, though, the more evenly distributed the bubbles will be. BUT, the more you whisk the more gluten you'll make and the harder, more dense (and less light and fluffy and risen) the final product will be.

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  16. but D, i don't buy it. i mix pretty much the same amount every time. and when it rides up the side, it's not a big puff but a thin sheet of pancake. (the kids won't eat it, in fact. it's too crispy.)

    there are times when there are puffs near the outer ring as opposed to further in the middle, but when it rides up the side it's not a puff action. that's why i think it's a heat of the pan issue.

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  17. Arguments from incredulity aside, the evidence is there and supports what I'm saying. The higher parts are a result of a greater density of bubbles in the batter. Unless you exactly incorporate exactly the same volume and number of bubbles in the same place, you're never going to get the same shape twice. Unlike cake batters, etc., this recipe has no sugars or other hard crystals to cut the incorporated bubbles down in size, so you're going to get very uneven distribution and size in the bubbles. Also, since there are no leaveners, there's nothing to create additional bubbles to fill in the other spaces. So, what you get is what you make, and those are going to be non-deterministic.

    </blah>

    ;)

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  18. if you were to say that a hotter pan cooking a thin layer of batter and THEN bubbles pushing that thin layer up, i think i'd go with it. but having only skinny ridges of bubbles along the outside as compared to thick ridges of bubbles in the middle doesn't make sense. bubbles is bubbles. why are the ones that happen at the very edge of the pan so skinny?

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  19. The ones at the edge of the pan are the result of the water in the butter boiling up the sides. The bubbles in the middle are the ones trapped in the protein matrix created by the batter as it cooks.

    Also, your batter isn't going to boil because, before it even reaches the temperature that turns water (the only liquid present) to vapor, the protein has already set up. So there's no way for bubbles to form, and the only thing that can happen is the bubbles present can expand against the protein matrix.

    BTW, I made this for dinner tonite and got a dense, eggy pancake that didn't get fluffy at all. The next time I make it, I'm going to take a change and beat the egg whites separately and fold them into the batter before baking.

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  20. I just made it too, and I got a pretty fluffy eggy pancake, except my cast iron skillet is a large one so it didn't get as high. I whipped it with the whisk pretty good to embed lots of bubbles in it. I might try using the smaller stainless steel pan next.

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  21. really?!! you might not have let it cook long enough.

    if i check on it at 10 minutes or so, it's pretty flat (though it looks mostly cooked). it's in the last 10 minutes that it suddenly puffs its little heart out.

    then, once you take it out, it settles back down again.

    ... did you use white flour? i wonder if that makes a difference? although the recipe from the cook book was for white flour, so that shouldn't change things at all.

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  22. I made it a second time, and this time got a flatter, eggier pancake. There were two variations this time:

    1. I used a shiny stainless steel skillet (an 8" one) with sides that were much more sloped than the cast iron skillet...it looks like instead of expanding upwards, it expanded outwards out of the pan (see the picture)

    2. Dimly recalling Alton Brown's pancake episode, I might have overwhipped the batter. I just looked at this article and it says A close, dense textured quick bread indicates the batter was overmixed, the dough was too wet or dry, the oven was too hot, or the bread wasn't baked long enough.

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  23. Oh, here's the pictures: fluffy pancake, which is not as fluffy as yours, and flat pancake, which was dense and eggy.

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  24. I made it again in the cast iron skillet, and got better results. I'm curious now what would happen if I started messing with the # of eggs and tried adding things like baking soda. What I like about this recipe is that it's so simple, I can explore all kinds of theories and EAT THEM. :-)

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  25. I cooked it for 20 minutes and used AP flour. Though I wonder if I didn't incorporate enough air into the batter...

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  26. Your flat pancake is pretty much how our pancake came out.

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  27. I tried baking regular pancake mix to see what would happen. No puffyness!

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  28. lol!

    dave, you're weird. ;-)

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  29. It's amazing that such simple ingredients have different results! I am wondering now if I can make naan (the indian flat bread) like this...the eggy pancake is sort of similar to it in texture!

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  30. I have phases like that where I explore the possibilities of a certain combination of ingredients, sometimes cooking or baking it three times a day...

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  31. if you can figure out how to make naan, please let us know. (especially if you can figure out a whole wheat version.)

    i've tried it before and it came out as a brick hard lump. :-P

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  32. Was just looked for unleavened flatbread links...this one looks interesting! There's a variation of the popover recipe too. I'm going to try some of the simplest ones.

    Oh, this book publisher link about breadmaking looks interesting too...small scale, sustainable baking AND artisinal cheesemaking!!!

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  33. there's a lot of interesting looking recipes on the unleavened page. i'll have to try some of those out.

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  34. I have a few recipes for naan at home if you'd like...

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  35. i have recipes. what i need is a DECENT recipe. got any decent recipes?

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  36. What is it that you like about naan meg? The BEST part? That might help narrow it down.

    Me, I like the plain naan the best...mostly for texture and elasticitiy, the airyness, plus there's that kind of slight charcoal-y aroma to it. I don't like it when it's too oily or filled with other things...garlic naan is about has far as I'll go.

    I am thinking of buying an electric skillet...just saw one on Alton Brown's show, and was thinking maybe this would be ideal for making flatbreads (and stirfries).

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  37. this describes it for me exactly.

    the naan i've tried to make on my own has come out brick hard and tasteless.

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  38. I deal in nothing but decent recipes. :)

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  39. I love pancakes, I will make this one! Thank for the recipe

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  40. some visitors to our church had lugged 100 pounds of flour down from minnesota before they realized that they had ground flour and not wheat berries. they didn't want to lug it all the way back home so they gave it to us.

    so we've stopped grinding our own flour in an attempt to make it through this 100 pounds before it goes bad. (i've given some away but i need to find more takers. my sis may take 50 pounds to work with her and dole it out.)

    but i've found that our puffy pancakes suddenly aren't puffy any more. the only thing that's changed is the flour. so i'm wondering if the freshly ground stuff was more fluffy/airated and that's why it puffed better.

    so for those of you getting flat pancakes, you may want to try sifting or some such. i hate sifting personally. i refuse to do it. but if you're into that sort of thing, it would be interesting to know if it helps when it comes to puffiness levels.

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  41. That's what I was suspecting when my attempt fell flat (pun intended :). I'm sure the freshly ground flour contained air pockets that expanded when you baked it. Time to test that theory this weekend. :)

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  42. Hey Meg, I was just reading somewhere that whole wheat flour produces less gluten than the fine white stuff, which is BETTER for this type of pancake. So that might have something to do with it.

    I finally have a reason to buy whole wheat flour! Yay! :-)

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  43. Also, when you mix the batter with the new flour, fix mix the liquids, then fold in the flour. Leave it lumpy...if you overmix it, it makes gluten and kills the whole puffy thing. That is the theory!

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  44. yeah, but i'm mixing this pre-ground flour into the batter the same amount that i used to mix in my freshly ground flour. (btw, be very careful when buying whole wheat flour in the stores. you'd do better getting it in a health food type store, i think (like whole foods) because they probably have more turnover there. whole wheat flour can get rancid and that's often why people don't like whole wheat foods. they don't realize that what they're eating is rancid.)

    i don't think it's a gluten thing. also, i've found that when i make popovers (which is essentially what this is on a larger scale) i usually have to add some white flour to get them to puff. they won't if i use only whole wheat. so i don't think it's a gluten thing.

    dave, if you bake a fair bit, you really should get a grinder and buy wheat berries to grind. it is Amazing the difference in flavor that it makes. especially when cooking something with corn flour.

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  45. Ehm, so Darryl... Where's that recipe you promised us? ;)

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  46. Sorry. I'll post it to my homepage.

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  47. Yeay!

    (There, more experiments for Dave, too :)

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  48. I like to slice an apple into the bottom of the pan, add a sprinkle of cinnamon and some brown sugar bofore pouring in the batter. It makes almost a caramel bottem. YUM

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  49. wow, that sounds like a nice addition. thanks for the suggestion.

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  50. It was for me until I studied chemistry. Then it became less of a mystery...

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  51. What part of chemistry did you find most demystifying about the baking process?

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  52. Inter-molecular forces, equilibrium states, le Chatelier's principle and redox reactions.

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  53. Doncha just love Wikepedia at times like this?

    :)

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  54. Still not getting a puffy pancake. I made this for breakfast today and got a large bowl of pancake (the sides raised). What am I doing wrong? Do you whip the mix into a froth first or what?

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  55. The one thing I realized I didn't do was to sift the flour to aerate it first. Dang! I'll remember next time to do that...

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  56. I showed up a little late to the party. Michaeljwise is right, it's a yorkshire pudding (sort of). They are less eggy and tend to be more puffy on the sides and less in the center. They are made with the drippings of (or in the pan from) roast beef. The Brits would call this a batter pudding and have it as an old fashioned dessert. Sometimes adding apple chunks or bananas in the pan like bubbagump.

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  57. yes - posted at my site- I have to triple the recipe my late husband would make this all the time in little iron skillets I now have a 9/10 inch one that helps. You think it is the same recipe or regular pancake?

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  58. did you used a self rising flour? I want to try your recipe, just want to make sure I buy the right kind of flour. Thanks.

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  59. i generally use hard red wheat that we grind in our grain grinder. but anything will work. white flour tends to make puffier pancakes (since there's no fiber to weight the thing down).

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  60. I've tried so many times since you first posted this and still haven't gotten anything better than a flat cake. It's never been puffy. I've even been sure to sift and aerate the flour and never overbeat and still no luck.

    Do you build up the gluten or do you mix it lightly?

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  61. dude, i make these so fast i don't know what i do. i think half the time i make them in my sleep.

    anna is the only one of the kids who hasn't OD'd on the puffies. so i make an individual one for her (one egg, 3 forkfuls of flour, a pour of milk, some salt: mix with the fork, pour into small corningware container, bake.)

    i find they're puffier if i use some white flour, less puffy if i only use whole wheat. but there was a while in the beginning when even the WW was coming out very puffy. don't know what the difference is lately. maybe i was using hard white flour then. dunno.

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  62. I wonder if it could be elevation and general humidity. Though I'd be surprised it would have that big of an effect.

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  63. Not sure, but anything's possible at this point. Do you do anything with your eggs first? It doesn't sound it. You seem to must combine, mix and bake. I've done that and just can't get a rise out of the batter at all.

    I'm gonna try again this weekend and see if I can't get this to work.

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  64. sorry to hear that you can't get it up, D. :-o

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  65. Maybe I just need better fluffing? :D

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  66. since having twins i've felt much fluffier than i want to be. :-P

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  67. ditto


    I use an iron skillet and I make sure it is good and hot before I put the batter in

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  68. i used to use a pre-heated skillet, but the only preheating the corningware gets is a bit of time in the micro to melt the butter to coat the bottom.

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  69. That's it! I should be wearing fuzzy bunny slippers! I'll bet that what happens is they build up a static charge which gets transferred to the batter while you mix and generates an electrostatic charge that keeps the pancakes in their foam matrix long enough to set!

    Yeah, that's it. Makes perfect sense....

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  70. Hmmmm. I don't preheat the skillet, so maybe that's it? With it preheated all of the transfer would go to the batter, and set the matrix and let any bubbles expand...

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  71. hasn't christene ever explained that a little preheating can go a long way?

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  72. She tells me not to overmix the batter, but to be sure to proper line the pan. Then she winks like I should know what she's talking about...

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  73. cept "line it with butter" < butter keyword

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  74. Okay, I'm trying this recipe again.Today I've heated the skillet in the oven while the oven came to temperature, and only after did I mix the ingredients.

    BTW, what size skillet do you use? I'm using an 18" and the batter barely covered 2/3 of the bottom...

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  75. Then that definitely is contributing to my inability to make it like you. It's the one in the picture then, right? A nine inch Dutch oven? Maybe if I try a casserole dish I'll have better luck?

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  76. no. it's not the one in the picture.

    i make this in three different size dishes:

    4 inch diameter casserole-type dish for an individual serving (multiply recipe by 1/3)
    9 inch diameter cast iron pan (for one regular size recipe, 3 servings)
    the pan shown above, which is 10 inches in diameter and has much higher sides than the cast iron pan (for full family meals, double the recipe)

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  77. That's the one I'm gonna try this weekend. I have skillets from 6" up to 18" plus a dutch oven. I love my cast iron. :)

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  78. If you scramble an egg and add small amt. milk , butter dish and cook in micro one egg one min. two eggs two min. It will puff just like your pancakes, my grandchildren call them puffy eggs. dont forget the salt.

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  79. we actually did my daughter's puffy in the micro this morning. i had put it into the oven for 20 minutes without noticing that my husband had changed the temp to 200. so it hadn't cooked. i micro'd it for 5 minutes and it puffed really beautifully. it was a little too chewy on the bottom, though, so next time i think i'd cook it a teeny bit less.

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  80. hear! hear!
    meg, your site here is really great. If you need seo service, please don't hesitate to leave me a message. traffic in your page could really increase...

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  81. Try with powdered sugar and fresh squeezed lemon wedge (butter pancake slice first) So good you want to cry.

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