Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pancakes x Infinity

In mathematics an unimaginably large value is said to be at infinity or is said to be infinity. For the moment, let us consider such a value to be positive. That is, think of an x number line with the origin, or zero, on it. In your imagination have it extend from zero to the right forever. One could say that infinity is at the end of that line. Except that line has no end. It goes on without end.

So, how far away to the right of zero is positive infinity? Well, if you started at the origin and spent your whole life running toward infinity at a million miles per hour, and somehow miraculously lived for a million lifetimes, at the end of all of that you would be no closer to infinity than when you started. That puts infinity very far away indeed.
The symbol for this value looks like this:

What does infinity have to do with pancakes? Well, for the past 30 years I have prepared the same pancake recipe at least once a week. A rough estimate that would equate to:
1 (pancake recipe) x 52 (weeks)x 30 (years) = 1,560 (batches of pancakes). While that is a smaller number than infinity, that is a butt-load of pancakes. The amazing thing to me is that even though I use the same recipe every time, these pancakes always turn out slightly different. Is it the humidity in the air, the moisture content of the flour, are these eggs maybe slightly bigger, is the fat content of the buttermilk more or less? Each batch of pancakes is like a snowflake, unique in its own way, never to be replicated again. That is what I love about this recipe. It is familiar , yet I know I will get a unique result. If I were musically inclined I might be able to make the correlation between making pancakes and playing jazz.

Norm's Pancake Recipe
1 cup of buttermilk
2 Tbsp. melt butter
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 cup of stone ground cornmeal
3/4 cup of flour

Mix the egg and the buttermilk, temper the melted butter with some of that egg/buttermilk mixture before you add it to the rest of the wet mixture. Mix all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add the wet to the dry. Stir just enough to incorporate all the ingredients-10-12 stirs. You will have some lumps. You can scale up this recipe x
if you need to.


Jan said...

I guess it's a European thing, but I've never been able to get into American pancakes, I think it's the thickness I don't like. But I love crepe style pancakes. To each his own, I suppose.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Norm.

Heather said...

I love pammycakes (yes, that is what i call them). They are a thing I hanker for. Good pammycakes are worth the trouble, every time.

Pammycakes - to infinity and beyond!

Norm Schoen said...

Jan-I loved the savory crepes I had on the street in Paris.
Heather-Everytime I make pancakes I think of my maternal Grandfather. He was the "keeper of the griddle" when we were kids and he used to make about 1000 pancakes for Christmas morning (Bisquick mix).

Brittany said...

Pancakes infinity?
Yes please.

Fancy ass crepes- 2 inch thick bisquick goliaths- I love them all.
Mainly because they are an excellent vehicle for copius amounts of butter and maple syrup.