Monday, June 16, 2008


"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 the hot griddle. When it was done, she put it smoking hot on the plate."

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Throughout the series of Little House books, much of the action centers around food ~ hunting it, growing it, losing it to natural disasters, cooking it, preserving it, and eating it. On the frontier feeding the family was a task that took most of everyone’s time. For Pa there was no weekly paycheck to be exchanged for shelter, clothing, and groceries. Pa pursued the food with gun, trap and plow; Ma prepared and preserved it; and the children helped with both activities. Food also looms large in these pioneer chronicles because there was rarely enough of it.

Celebrations and social gatherings were a time for eating. Socializing for young and old took the form of church suppers and evenings at home popping corn and pulling candy. Laura shares in her books some of these special times and the special foods that were served at these gatherings.

The first kitchen Laura Ingalls Wilder describes in her stories is her grandmother’s kitchen in Little House in the Big Woods. Laura describes the celebration held there as a sugaring off party where she recalls making Molasses-on-snow Candy, a real treat. How many of us remember the real treats, the sounds, the smells, the sights and especially the tastes that were made in our grandmother’s, mothers, or aunts kitchens?

When I was a little girl, Saturday mornings meant a special breakfast, a break from oatmeal, cold cereal, or toast and jam. I was given a choice of French toast, Griddlecakes, or Waffles. I almost always chose Griddlecakes! They were my favorite. Just like Ma, my mother would pour them into shapes or sometimes she would stand at the stove for as long as I desired and make me dollar cakes. Dollar cakes were the size of a silver dollar, bite size really. It took a lot of dollar cake to fill me up, but she was very patient when I chose dollar cakes.

Recently I was transported back into time by a sight and smell of Griddlecakes in my own kitchen. It had been a very long time since I had had one and I decided one Saturday morning to make them. I pulled out the recipe written in my mothers elegant script, assembled the ingredients, and heated the cast iron griddle on the stove. After stirring up the batter and pouring it onto the griddle, I stood, spatula in hand, patiently waiting for the edges to crisp turning a golden brown, and for the bubbles to appear on the surface. I often peeked over my mother’s elbow to watch for the fragrant bubbles to rise to the surface and burst releasing that heavenly smell.

As I stood there and inhaled the aroma, tears sprang to my eyes remembering the sight of mama in front of her avocado green double oven cooking griddlecakes in her cast iron skillet, spatula in hand, head bent in concentration, and the quick flip of her wrist, the sizzle sound of the griddlecake being turned. Hot homemade syrup was always at the ready as was a generous dollop of whipped butter. Mama prepared these before mixing up the griddlecakes.

My daughter was sitting on the table swinging her legs and watching me. She asked me why I was crying over a griddlecake. I brushed away my tears to better see the bubbles rise and I had no answer. It was just a happy memory, a golden part of childhood on day when things were calm and good in our home. It was remembering this small act of love.

When my griddlecake was done I slathered it butter, quickly cooked another and slid it on top of the other, topping it with a pat of butter and hot syrup. Before I took that first delectable bite, I grabbed my camera and took a picture. My daughter through I was nuts. Then I cut it into squares, like I did when I was young, and savored every mouthful under my daughter’s watchful eye.

She always wanted them poured into shapes when she was young but she would never eat them! She declared she wanted to try one now and I took my stance at the stove, spatula in hand, head bent in concentration, a quick flip of the wrist and the sizzle sound filled the air as the griddlecake was turned. Hot homemade syrup was at the ready as was a generous pat of butter and the tradition continued.

(makes 8~4 inch~griddlecakes)

1 Cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Egg
1 Cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine

*Sift flour with baking powder, salt, and sugar into a medium bowl.

*With rotary beater, beat egg. Add milk and butter; beat until well mixed.

*Pour into dry ingredients; beat only until combined~batter will be lumpy.

*Meanwhile, slowly heat griddle or heavy skillet. To test temperature, drop a little cold water onto hot griddle; water should roll off in drops.

* Use about 1/4 Cup batter for each griddlecake; cook until bubbles form on surface and edges become dry. Turn cook 2 minutes longer, or until nicely browned on underside. Serve with whipped butter and hot syrup or your topping of choice.

VARIATIONS ~ using the above recipe and additional ingredients listed below:

Add 1 Cup pared, thinly sliced apple to Griddlecakes batter; cook as above. Serve with Spicy Applesauce(recipe below)

Sift 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg with Griddlecake dry ingredients. Add to batter 1 Cup mashed banana and 2 teaspoons lemon juice; cook as above. Serve with whipped butter and Hot Maple Syrup(recipes below)

Sift 3.4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg with Griddlecakes dry ingredients. Add to batter 1/2 Cup uncooked; quick-cooking oats and 2 Tablespoons honey; cook as above. Serve with whipped butter and Orange-Maple Syrup or Praline-Butter Sauces(recipes below)

Add 1/2 Cup chopped pecans or walnuts to Griddlecakes batter; cook as above. Serve with whipped butter and Sour-Cream Topping(recipe below)

Sift 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with Griddlecakes dry ingredients. Add to batter 1 cup cooked white rice; cook as above. Serve with Praline-Butter Sauce.

Reduce milk in Griddlecakes to 3/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons. Add to batter 2 Tablespoons light molasses and 1/2 Cup crushed bite-sized shredded wheat biscuits; cook as above. Serve with whipped butter and Hot Maple Syrup.

(makes about one cup)

1/4 lb. sweet or salt butter

*Let butter stand, at room temperature, in small bowl of electric mixer 30 minutes.
*Beat at a low speed until smooth; then beat at high speed until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes in all.
*Mound high in small bowl. Serve at room temperature.

Special sauces and butters compliment the flavor of pancakes and waffles. You will find a wide variety of syrups on your grocer's shelf. But you'll want to try these easy recipes, too.

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) blueberries
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

*Drain blueberry liquid into small saucepan. Stir in corn syrup.
*Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes Stir in blueberries. Serve warm.

1 pkg. (12 oz.) thawed frozen sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice

*Drain strawberries, reserving liquid. In medium saucepan, combine 1 Table spoon strawberry liquid and the 2 teaspoons cornstarch; stir until smooth.
*Add remaining liquid, the berries, and lemon juice; bring to boiling, stirring. Sauce will be slightly thickened and translucent. Serve warm.


1 Cup dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine

*Combine sugar and 1/2 Cup water in medium saucepan; bring to boiling.
*Boil, uncovered, 5 minutes. Add maple flavoring and butter; stir until butter melts. Serve hot.

1 1/2 Cups maple-flavored syrup
1 Cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

*Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to boiling.
*Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes. Serve hot.

1/2 Cup butter
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
6 Tablespoons

*Work butter until very soft. Stir in orange peel and sugar until smooth. Serve at room temperature.

1/2 Cup butter or margarine
1/2 Cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 Cup chopped pecans

*In small bowl, using electric mixer at high speed, beat butter until light and fluffy.
*Gradually beat sugar until very light and fluffy.
*Add pecans. Serve at room temperature.

1 jar (1 lb.) applesauce
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

*Combine all ingredients in small bowl; blend thoroughly. Serve warm or cold.

1 1/2 Cups dairy sour cream
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

*Combine all ingredients in small bowl; blend thoroughly. Serve at room temperature.

Miss Sandy


Lori said...

your griddle cakes sound delicious Miss Sandy and with all the yummy toppings, there really is something for everyone...i will be making these for my boys, they love pancakes:)

The Feathered Nest said...

Sandy you have my mouth watering with all of these amazing versions of griddle cakes!!! I've got to try boys would go nuts over them! xxoo, Dawn

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Yes, it sounds like supper could be griddlecakes around here. Such warm and wonderful memories you, see, things like that bring quick hot tears to my eyes, too. Are we nuts? Don't ask your daughter!

But, my friend, why no real maple syrup? Yummers!

Fete et Fleur said...

OOOHHHH! These look amazing Sandy!
The toppings sound fantastic.


MyThreeDaughters said...

I'll be trying to translate now. They are either drop scones or pikelets.

MyThreeDaughters said...

MyThreeDaughters said...


Anonymous said...

I just loved your story! It brought back memories for me of griddlecakes. Thank you so much for sharing. I like how you included all the little recipes. I will be trying some of them. Thank you for sharing and for hosting such a wonderful Blog-a-thon.

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Mmmmm! My mouth is watering and it is breakfast time.
Thank you for sharing such a sweet memory.

Anonymous said...

This post made my mouth water and I'm not even hungry. Griddle cakes with warm maple syrup is one of my favorite things. When I order pancaked in restaurants I am almost always disappointed, because they are pale and fluffy. I love the flat browned ones that I make at home. I've never made maple syrup. I'll have to try it some time.
Thanks for sharing.

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