Many years ago, I was a longtime subscriber to Esquire Magazine. This was while I was also a longtime subscriber to the New Yorker, as well as a subscriber to both Harper’s and the Atlantic. For those of you counting, that totals four magazine subscriptions, one of which is a weekly with which, as I have mentioned before, I have an extremely difficult time keeping current. In an effort to stop the ominous growth of the pile of unread magazines growing higher and higher each month, like bricks in the wall of my own magazine prison, I had to start letting magazine subscriptions lapse. Esquire was the first to go.
It’s not that I didn’t appreciate Esquire. It’s just that, overall, the other magazines in my arsenal happened to speak more clearly to my own interests and concerns. I showed an at least passing interest reading about mail-order meat, or the intricacies of what men think about what women think about underpants, or $12,000 suits made to order by a 75 year-old tailor in Italy, but it’s just that Esquire seemed to contain content that I found interesting, say, 50% of the time, whereas the other magazines I received tended to hover around a more respectable 70%-90%. This is not a slam against Esquire, of course. I am clearly not in their target demographic, so our parting was really just a matter of time.
There is, however, one item from Esquire for which I will be forever grateful. About five years ago, Ryan D’Agostino wrote an article for Esquire about his favorite recipe, written on a slip of German hotel stationery, that he carries around in his wallet. It was a simple recipe for pancakes, but it was also D’Agostino’s signature recipe, the one he made at a friend’s vacation house, and the one he made for his wife before she was his wife. The pancake recipe was simple, but surefire. And I am here to attest that, without fail, they are indeed the best pancakes I have ever eaten.
Taking a cue from D’Agostino, I cut out the picture of his recipe and put the slip of paper in my own wallet. I have made his pancakes while on vacation, while visiting family, and while camping (I just put the liquid ingredients in one container, the dry in another, then combine them when breakfast calls—which is another point I’d like to make: these pancakes, cooked in a cast iron pan over a campfire? Unbeatable). I have at least seven other cookbooks with basic, no-frills pancake recipes in them, and not one of those other recipes even comes close to being as perfect as this one. For a recipe gleaned from a magazine I stopped receiving two or three years ago, that’s a pretty good track record. I can’t say I’ve gotten that much mileage out of that one article I read in the Atlantic about Mexican drug cartels but, you know, there’s still time.
Last Year: Black Bread Rolls and Food for Traveling
Esquire Pancakes Recipe
Adapted from Ryan D’Agostino in Esquire
Keen observers will note that the one change I have made in D’Agostino’s recipe is in regard to the amount of sugar in the pancakes. I prefer a less-sweet pancake, so I make these with 2 teaspoons of sugar, rather than D’Agostino’s suggested 2 tablespoons. You can use whichever you please, to no ill effect.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 ¼ cups milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
Combine dry. Beat egg. Combine wet. Mix wet into dry. Stir until barely mixed. Can be doubled, tripled, etc.
Cook pancakes, ¼ cup of batter at a time, on a well-oiled or seasoned skillet set over medium low heat. Flip pancakes when bubbles on surface begin to pop, and the edges of the pancakes are just beginning to appear dry.
Top with maple syrup or lemon yogurt.
Makes 8 pancakes of medium-large size.