What could be more fun than making pancake men? Laura describes in her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, that her mother made the family pancake men for Christmas:
“For breakfast there were pancakes, and Ma made a pancake man for each one of the children. Ma called each one in turn to bring her plate, and each could stand by the stove and watch, while with the spoonful of batter Ma put on the arms and the legs and the head. It was exciting to watch her turn the whole little man over, quickly and carefully, on a hot griddle. When it was done, she put it smoking hot on the plate.” (Little House in the Big Woods 79)
Molly and I picked out numerous old fashioned recipes to test last summer and thought pancake men would be a fun recipe. This recipe can be found in The Little House Cookbook on page 92. For the recipe you need baking soda, water, whole wheat and white flour, salt, cultured buttermilk, an egg and salt pork. Now for us, we just used two cups of white flour instead of one cup of white and one cup of wheat. The reason the recipe calls for one cup of each is to resemble the flour that Ma would have used. The salt pork is used to grease the pan, since we did not have salt pork readily available, we just used butter instead. Once you have the ingredients you can start making your pancakes:
- Boil the water and then put the baking soda in the water, set aside to cool
- Mix the flour and salt and then mix in the buttermilk and egg, beat well
- Add in the water and baking soda “with a few quick strokes”
- At this point the batter may be too thin and you may have to add some more flour to thicken it up
- Heat your skillet and rub the salt pork on it or butter if you are us
- Very carefully and quickly make your pancake men
Making pancake men at this point is almost an art form. You have to be careful that the pancakes actually look like a man at the end, but then you cannot take too long or else your pancake man will burn. However, you still must successfully flip your pancake man. Mine looked great until I flipped him over and he became decapitated and Molly’s flipped successfully but was also burned. It may take a few tries until you perfect this art but it is a lot of fun and Molly and I got some good laughs out of it. We suggest making your pancake men small to start off with, to make flipping easier.
As for the taste, the pancakes were very good even with the lack of sugar and homemade batter. The taste combined with the cute pancake men makes for the perfect breakfast, dinner, or even late-night snack!