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Old Fashioned Pancakes: Bottoms Up!

It happened, as many good things do, at a bar.

Grabbing a drink at the Brooklyn Museum’s Saul while I waited for Saisha to finish curating for the day, I overheard two bartenders discussing IHOP and its “old-fashioned pancakes.”

Being that they were bartenders, I wondered if the restaurant chain was somehow now serving booze-infused stacks. (Mind you, I’d only had half a beer at this point.)

old fashioned pancakes with orange and maraschino cherries
Photo: Casey Barber

Sadly for IHOP habitués, this was not in fact the case, as the bartender amusedly clarified for me. Happily for home pancake makers, that doesn’t mean we can’t make such a thing ourselves.

The Old Fashioned is surprisingly divisive for a drink so classic in the cocktail repertoire. Pretty much the only thing anyone can agree on is that whiskey, sugar, and bitters are involved.

Some use sugar cubes; others squirt in simple syrup. Some like bourbon; others, rye.

Some eschew all garnish; others begrudgingly allow a single orange peel, while still others go whole hog with orange and lemon wheels, cherries, and even pineapple.

old fashioned pancakes with orange and maraschino cherries
Photo: Casey Barber

Heck, there are some people who are cool with taking the drink neat instead of over the rocks.

I’m firmly on the side of garnishes when it comes to the Old Fashioned. And for the purposes of making pancakes (sing it with me: making pancakes, making whiskey pancakes!), they’re a definite necessity.

Chopped maraschino cherries and fresh orange zest brighten up the batter—trust me, even if you’re not a maraschino cherry fan, do yourself a favor and try them in this recipe. They make all the difference here.

old fashioned pancakes with orange and maraschino cherries
Photo: Casey Barber

The batter’s also spiked with a little rye flour to pay homage to the alcohol that makes up the base of a classic Old Fashioned.

(Most bourbons contain rye, though there are always exceptions. Let’s just roll with it here, ok?).

And for the final flourish, a splash of maple whiskey adds a hint of booziness to the syrup without killing your brunch guests with high-proof vapors.

Again, trust me, as someone who once accidentally used Scotch in her bourbon French toast, the maple-finished whiskey is the right and only move here.

old fashioned pancakes with orange and maraschino cherries

The end result is a sweetly unexpected and distinctive variation on the traditional pancake breakfast that toes the line between old-fashioned and, well, Old Fashioned.

Note that I do not recommend drinking actual Old Fashioneds with these pancakes unless you want to lay yourself out flat for the rest of the day.

May I suggest a light breakfast cocktail like an orange juice shandy instead?

old fashioned pancakes with orange and maraschino cherries

Old Fashioned Pancakes

Yield: 12 pancakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Old Fashioned pancakes are inspired by the classic cocktail and feature orange zest, maraschino cherries, and rye flour. Maple whiskey syrup optional!

Ingredients

Pancakes

  • 1 cups (4 1/4 ounces; 120 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 ounces; 57 grams) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (1 7/8 ounces; 52 grams) rye flour (or substitute an equivalent amount by weight of white whole wheat flour)
  • 3/8 cup (2 5/8 ounces; 75 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled + additional butter for greasing the griddle if needed
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5-6 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/2 cup minced Maraschino cherries

Syrup

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple whiskey
  • a splash of maraschino cherry juice (optional)

Instructions

Make the pancakes:

  1. Whisk all the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the milk, egg yolks, butter, orange zest, vanilla, and bitters together in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. With a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form when you pull the beaters out of the eggs. The egg whites will still be droopy; don't overwhip!
  4. Stir the milk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients just until combined—there can be a few pockets of dry flour left in the batter.
  5. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Heat a griddle or a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat until very hot. Grease with butter if using a cast iron or steel pan.
  7. Drop pancakes in 1/4 cup ladlefuls onto the griddle and sprinkle evenly with handfuls of minced maraschino cherries.
  8. Cook the pancakes until you see bubbles form on top and the sides start to become matte and firm instead of glistening and liquid.
  9. Peek under the pancake to see if it's golden brown, then carefully flip.
  10. Cook for 1-2 minutes more and remove from the griddle.
  11. Repeat with the remaining batter; pancakes can be kept warm on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven if you want to serve all the 'cakes at once.

Make the syrup:

  1. Whisk the maple syrup, whiskey, and maraschino cherry juice together in a small bowl.
  2. Warm gently over low heat if desired (don't let the syrup boil!), then transfer to a small pitcher.
  3. Serve with the pancakes.

Notes

Leftover pancakes can be frozen in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, then stored in sealed freezer-safe bags for up to 3 months. Reheat in a dry pan or in a toaster oven.

Base pancake recipe adapted from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 961Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 249mgSodium: 802mgCarbohydrates: 154gFiber: 6gSugar: 72gProtein: 22g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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