For most humans on this planet, pancakes are a simple, last-ditch recipe, perfect when you have nothing else in your pantry and you (or, more likely, your kids) wake up hungry NOW. The time-tested recipe beloved by half-assing fathers everywhere, pancakes are as easy a breakfast food as you can get. Throw some mix in a bowl with a little oil, eggs, and milk, whisk it together, fry it in the skillet while you skim the newspaper, slather with syrup, eat. If you’re feeling silly, maybe make one look like Mickey Mouse. If you want to feel like you’re rich or at a resort, put some fuckin’ blueberries or strawberries on top of them. That’s about it.
But one of the most time-honored tenets of a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe is: the easiest recipes can always be made difficult, often for no reason at all. “Tomorrow morning I think I’ll make Gwyneth’s dad’s pancakes,” I decided while I was cooking Perfect Roasted Chinese Duck. Thankfully, I took a look at the recipe beforehand, where I noticed one important statement: “Total preparation time: 20 minutes plus overnight resting.” Overnight resting?! Of course Gwyneth’s pancakes take 16 hours to cook. Why am I even surprised, so many years into this project. So, while I cooked the duck, I also whisked together some pancake batter. This is what cool kids do on the weekend.
What’s in the batter, you ask? Nothing too crazy. Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk, eggs, regular milk. A shockingly simple list of ingredients, proving once and for all that Bruce Paltrow was a sane, sane man who, unlike his deranged daughter, managed to make food without ingredient lists that required trips to four different specialty grocery stores. The only real annoyance is that you have to mix it the night before, which I’m sure many people miss in this recipe, as it’s only mentioned in the fourth sentence of the instructions. Just imagine a mom or dad deciding to take out their beloved copy of “My Father’s Daughter” by Gwyneth Paltrow (jk this scenario has never and will never happen), looking to whip up some delicious pancakes for their treasured children, following the recipe’s first three sentences and mixing it all together at 9 am on a Sunday, only to get to the fourth sentence and learn: whoops! Should have started at 10 pm on Saturday! You’ll never be as good a parent as Gwyneth, sorry.
But this isn’t my first rodeo, so I read the instructions and mixed together some pancake batter on a Saturday night, feeling like an idiot. The next morning, I woke up and checked: yep, still just a bowl full of batter. Nothing magical had happened overnight. Just as I expected.
(Note: I had originally planned to prepare one batch of batter the night before, as instructed, as well as another one in the morning, to compare and see if it really mattered if you made the batter a day in advance. However, I totally forgot to reserve some milk and eggs for the morning batch of batter, so I guess we’ll never be able to compare unless one of you start your own So-And-So/Gwyneth Project. Sorry for failing you but, again, I was making pancakes at midnight after cooking duck for two straight days.)
Anyway, I woke up, made some coffee, put on the same shirt I was wearing the night before, and made some stupid pancakes. I am a miserable bastard every morning, only truly waking up around, oh, 3 pm (my dear friend Nora once said I need a mug that says, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had tea and read the internet for 3 hours” which is brutally accurate), so this was not a fun experience. And anyone who makes pancakes, especially in a cast iron pan, knows that the first batch usually isn’t great. So it was no surprise when my first attempt came out like this:
But eventually I got the hang of it, and started turning out pancakes. Gwyneth says to eat them with warmed maple syrup, but I just simply couldn’t be bothered. I’m sure it makes them better. Whatever. I ate some pancakes with lukewarm-bordering-on-cold syrup.
How were they, you ask? They were pancakes. Buttermilk pancakes, made from scratch instead of a box, so I suppose they were better than your average pancakes. Rich and thick, more “cake” than “pan” (I don’t know what that means, but you get it). But, really, how good can a basic-ass pancake be? Is it honestly worth making them overnight? No, no it isn’t. The end.