Light and Fluffy Pancakes

Makes 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

These are ethereal, clouds of egg made into cakes; they also develop a very nice crust. Add more sugar if you'd like them sweet.

1 cup milk
4 eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
Dash salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1[1/2] teaspoons baking powder
Butter or canola or other neutral oil as needed

Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat while you make the batter.

Beat together the milk and egg yolks. Mix the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff but not dry.

Combine the dry ingredients and milk-yolk mixture, stirring to blend. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites; they should remain somewhat distinct in the batter.

Add about 1 teaspoon of butter or oil to the griddle or skillet and, when it is hot, add the batter by the heaping tablespoon, making sure to include some of the egg whites in each spoonful. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then turn and cook until the second side is brown. Serve, or hold in a 200[dg]F oven for up to 15 minutes.

Blueberry Pancakes [WD]: Blueberries, about 1 cup, should be the last ingredient you add. If they are fresh, pick them over and wash and drain them well before adding. If they are frozen, add them without defrosting. Cook more slowly than you would other pancakes, because they have a tendency to burn.

Banana Pancakes [WD]: Really, really great, and a fine use for overripe bananas. Make any pancake batter as usual. After beginning to cook each batch, simply place a few rounds of [1/4]-inch-thick slices of banana directly onto the surface of the cooking batter; press them into each cake a little bit. Turn carefully and cook a little more slowly than you would other pancakes, but be sure to cook through.

Polenta Pancakes [WD]: Slowly add [1/2] cup cornmeal to 1 cup boiling water and cook over low heat, stirring, until smooth and well blended, about 3 minutes; cool. Make the batter as above and stir in the cornmeal mush before adding the beaten egg whites. You might also substitute molasses for the sugar in this variation, with excellent results.

4 Ideas for Pancakes
Add chocolate chips as the pancakes are cooking (see Banana Pancakes, above).

Add grated peeled apples or pears, crushed drained pineapple, or any other fruit, pitted, peeled, and chopped (or drained and chopped if canned), as you would blueberries. Or add peeled and sliced fresh fruit (or lightly cooked, for hard fruit such as apples) as you would bananas.

Add 1 tablespoon or more of freshly squeezed lemon juice to the batter, using baking soda ([1/2] teaspoon per cup of flour) in place of baking powder. Add a little lemon rind as well if you like the flavor.

Use orange juice in place of milk; add 1 teaspoon grated or minced orange zest to the batter.

Separating Eggs
To separate eggs, break the egg with the back of a knife or on the side of a small bowl.

The easiest way to separate eggs is to use the shell halves, moving the yolk back and forth once or twice so that the white falls into a bowl. Be careful, however, not to allow any of the yolk to mix in with the whites or they will not rise fully during beating.