Self-Rising Flour Pancakes

by Min Merrell

Self-rising flour pancakes eliminate the need for pancake mix. The top two pancakes have lacy fried edges like the ones at Cracker Barrel.

Do you use pancake mix? Or, is that a stupid question considering the unbelievable amount of shelf space devoted to these mixes at the supermarket? Well, let’s just say we’ve all been duped. No one needs pancake mix, except maybe folks on a camping trip. Nor do you need a biscuit/baking mix. What you really need in the pantry is one versatile bag of self-rising flour for all your pancake, muffin, biscuit, scone, shortcake, and coffee cake needs.

Self-rising flour is a historic staple in the southern kitchen where rural home cooks traditionally baked biscuits every day. It’s simply a perfectly blended convenient mix of all-purpose flour, leaving (baking powder) and salt. (Confession to readers: I’m a self-ordained self-rising flour evangelist after many years of working with the test kitchen staff at Martha White, the historic flour company that pioneered self-rising flour and cornmeal in Nashville, Tenn. I am also a strong believer in cake mix.)

Pancake mixes have dry milk powder, fat, and sometimes egg already in them. Why not add those fresh kitchen regulars yourself? Pancakes are the simplest of quick breads—just griddle-baked cakes made from a leavened batter of flour, fat, egg and liquid. That’s it.

For the fat, vegetable oil works fine, as well as melted butter. For the liquid, regular milk works great. Buttermilk makes the cakes moist and spongier with a tangy flavor. Yogurt works, sour cream works, soy milk works, even ricotta cheese. If you use a thick liquid like ricotta, yogurt or sour cream, be sure to thin out the batter with a little water or milk. Make the batter nice and pourable.

You can make the cakes richer with more egg. Often waffle recipes contain an extra egg and a little more fat, otherwise they are same. And you can add a pinch of sugar for browning.

Lots of folks swear by the pancakes at Cracker Barrel restaurants because of the down-home mottled look with crispy edges. You can make those too with your same old self-rising pancake batter. Generously grease the griddle with a little more bacon grease or vegetable oil than usual so that the cakes “fry” around the edges (see the photo). The two pancakes on the top have the mottled look from a well-greased skillet, the bottom two don’t. You pick. Watch for more about biscuits and cornbread as the Cheater Chef Self-Rising Crusade continues.

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