A few summers ago, I cut short my summer by two weeks in northern Michigan to be in New York for the opening of Eataly. Every day or two I'd get a call from either Benno or Leo with a strangely specific cooking question: "Would you say we put one or two tablespoons of brown sugar in our pancakes?" or "How long do we boil potatoes for the potato salad?"
During the two weeks I was gone, Benno, Leo and my wife, Susi, conceived of, planned and photographed the "Batali Brothers Cookbook" as my 50th birthday present. The outcome is a compilation of the recipes we make together every summer in Michigan. The boys (aka Bros) wrote, cooked and styled the dishes; Susi photographed the finished products on her iPhone; and our cousin Lisa, who designs all of my cookbooks, laid out and had bound the book. I could not be prouder of the result.
Late last year, I mentioned the book on The Chew and it sparked some interest. Come May 14, families across America will come to know the brilliance of the Batali Brothers' Pocket Burgers (trademark pending).
On weekdays, I make breakfast before Benno and Leo go to school. On weekends, the boys take the lead. Sunday pancakes are a recipe for happiness plain and simple. These pancakes with a twist are without a doubt the best pancakes there are.
Brown Sugar Pancakes
Courtesy "The Batali Brothers Cookbook" (ecco, 2013)
Makes 12 to 14 (3-4 inch) pancakes.
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more regular butter for the pan and more for the table
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1. Put a nonstick or cast iron pan on the stove over medium heat.
2. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and granulated sugar together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs in with the milk. Add the vanilla extract and the melted butter then whisk some more.
4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in thirds and whisk. Make sure to get all the lumps out of the batter.
5. When you are done whisking the batter crumble two tablespoons of brown sugar on top and barely mix it in.
6. Take some extra butter not melted butter and put it on the pan so it melts and bubbles.
7. Then cook in batches: Pour the batter onto the pan (not all of it -- just a ladle at a time; we like a 2 or 3 ounce ladle) so you form good round circles. Flip the pancakes when they are ready (bubbles form on the raw side) and cook them till they are ready.
8. Serve hot with maple syrup and more butter on the side
(Mario Batali is the owner of Babbo, Lupa, Otto and other renowned restaurants. His latest book is "Molto Batali," published by Ecco.)