I really want to love The River Cottage Family Cookbook. Really, I do. So far, I've made two recipes from it -- chocolate chip cookies and drop scones, which are identified as "American pancakes." What I like about both recipes is their size; both make smaller batches than my regular go-to recipes, making me think I could really "whip up a batch" and not have to wonder what I'd do with the leftovers.
But, as it turns out, the batch size is about the only thing these recipes have to recommend them. I've already given a tepid review to the cookies. I still may adjust the ingredients and try again. Then again, I may not.
As for the pancakes, the first time I made them they came out gummy. I thought the problem was too much mixing. The recipe calls for a lot of it, and if you make pancakes from scratch (which we do all the time), you learn that mixing too much activates the gluten in the flour (writing that makes me feel like I'm playing some kind of cooking expert on TV). So, I made a note to myself to try again and mix less, which I did Thursday. Maybe if I thought of them as "drop scones" and served them with a glop of clotted cream (or Greek yogurt) and jam, I'd think they were just right. But thinking of them as pancakes made me think they were gummy.
This morning, I went back to my old stand-by recipe, the buttermilk pancakes in the latest edition of the Joy of Cooking. And these pancakes? My husband said they were the best pancakes without syrup that he's had. I have no idea why they turned out so well today -- my kids activated plenty of gluten when we all mixed the batter. But still, they were delicious and we have batter leftover for tomorrow's breakfast.
I still love reading the River Cottage Family Cookbook. I love thinking that "planting a lettuce garden" is an activity that my kids and I will one day join forces to do, and I think I'll still give the raisin bread a shot. But when it comes to pancakes, I'm sticking with Joy.