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I’m actually eating the leftovers of these Orange Molasses Pancakes as I write this blog post (how meta). These pancakes came about because I was sick of our family’s staples. Sometimes you just need a little variety in your life, am I right?. Typically when that happens I will jump into my favorite recipe development book, The Flavor Bible. It’s just a book with a list of ingredients and all of the other ingredients that pair well with them. It is a life saver whenever I am feeling stuck or need to break out of the ordinary.
The objective was to create something that felt like fall (or autumn, your preference). For me, that means rich, dark, slightly sweet molasses. A quick look through the book told me that citrus looked like a great combination. But something was missing. Serendipity sometimes happens when you decide to ignore an issue and putz on social media. I came across a recipe from The Hungry Hutch for Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies (which I have yet to make but will let you know when I do!). So, I changed up some of my flour to add a bit of rye flour to the pancake recipe. That did the trick. It added a beautiful earthy flavor that balanced with the sweet molasses and the orange
Grass, Grains, and Cereals
As with anything in life, the more I learn, the more I learn I have a lot left to learn. That includes learning about grass, grains, and cereals. All of which can refer to the same thing. Grains are small, hard, dry seeds that grow in grass. Typically, grains are edible by either humans or animals but not always. The grains become cereal when the grass has been specifically cultivated for human consumption. So, when you are eating white rice with your chicken, technically you are eating cereal.
What is Rye Flour?
Rye flour is a grass that most likely originated in southwest Asia as a weed. It then travelled along with other grains to Europe where it was domesticated around 1000 BCE. Rye flour is a cereal grain that is closely related to barley and wheat. There are typically 4 different types of rye flour: white, light, medium, whole grain, and dark. The various types refer to the amount of bran and germ that is left within the flour with light having the least and dark having the most bran and germ remaining.
What Does Rye Taste Like?
If you’ve ever had Pumpernickel bread, you have had rye. Pumpernickel is one of the only breads that is made using 100% rye flour. If you’ve never had Pumpernickel, rye has an earthy flavor that is reminiscent of mushrooms, potatoes, and greens. But don’t let that description stop you, the rye in these Orange Molasses Pancakes makes it taste like you used a sourdough base without the hassle of keeping a sourdough starter on hand.
Where Can I Buy Rye Flour?
You will most likely be able to find rye flour at any grocery store. I used Bob’s Red Mill Dark Rye Flour when developing this recipe.
Why a 50/50 Mix of All-Purpose and Rye Flour?
As with all types of flour, rye flour contains gluten and is high in gliadin and low in glutenin. Despite containing gluten, rye still produces a less glutenous structure than typical wheat grains. Because of rye’s structure, the proteins (gliadin and glutenin) don’t want to interlink, ultimately creating weak gluten structures.
This lower gluten formation helps to give breads and batters a light, open structure, making it perfect for things like pancakes, waffles, cakes, etc. Rye isn’t so great for actual bread because you need the structure to help hold the shape of the loaf. By mixing rye flour with all-purpose flour you get the best of both. The light airy structure and depth of flavor from the rye and the strength and stability of the all-purpose flour.
Whenever I make this, my husband tells me that the pancake batter looks disgusting (a ringing endorsement!) but that the Orange Molasses Pancakes tastes really good so he will continue to eat them. The batter does look really runny when you first mix everything together. But not to worry, because of the pentosans protein that is contained within rye, this flour can hold up to 8 to 10 times its weight in liquid. (To provide some context, your typical wheat flour can only hold 2 times its weight in liquid.) Letting the batter sit for about 5 minutes gives the rye flour time to hydrate and will lead to a nice thick batter.
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Orange is Optional
While these might be called Orange Molasses Pancakes, they are still delicious without the orange zest. While I recommend taking the extra time to zest the orange, if you don’t want to or you have an aversion to citrus in your desserts (*cough**cough*, you know who you are), you can leave it out and just have a Molasses Rye Pancakes instead.
Orange Molasses Pancakes
- Turning Spatula
- Griddle or Skillet
- Heat proof pastry brush
- 6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour 172 grams; about 1 ½ cups
- 6 ounces dark rye flour 172 grams; about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar 6 grams
- 3 teaspoons baking powder 10 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 9 grams
- 1 teaspoon Morton’s kosher salt 4 grams
- 5 ½ ounces eggs 142 grams; about 3 whole large eggs
- 4 ounces unsalted butter 114 grams; 8 tablespoons, melted and cooled, divided
- 4 ½ ounces molasses 128 grams
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract 7 grams
- 17 ounces whole milk 486 grams; about 2 cups
- 3 teaspoons orange zest 5 grams; 2-3 large oranges
Orange Maple Syrup Ingredients:
- 6 large oranges, juiced use the left over oranges from pancakes
- orange zest from 3 oranges make sure there is no pith
- 6 ounces maple syrup measured by weight
- 1 tsp brown sugar and a pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cinnamon stick optional
- Pinch kosher salt
Orange Maple Syrup Instructions:
- Bring all ingredients to a light simmer over medium low heat. Let simmer for 5 minutes and remove cinnamon. Stirring occasionally, let simmer for 5 more minutes to reduce slightly.
Orange Molasses Pancake Instructions:
- In a large bowl, whisk together 6 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, 6 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) dark rye flour, 1 ½ teaspoon granulated sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt until fully mixed. In a medium bowl, whisk together 5 ½ ounces (3 whole large) eggs and 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cooled, melted butter until there are no stray bits of egg floating about. Add in 4 ½ ounces molasses ( and 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla and stir to combine. Pour 17 ounces (about 2 cups) milk into the egg mixture and stir to combine. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk together until no large lumps remain (you may still have some smaller lumps). Let the batter sit for 5 minutes to hydrate while your skillet or griddle heats up.
- Heat skillet or griddle on medium heat. Using a heat proof pastry brush, brush the cooking surface with enough melted butter to lightly coat the surface. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, pour pancakes on to your preheated cooking surface. Cook pancakes for 2-3 minutes per side, adjusting heat as needed to allow the full 2-3 minutes cooking time. Pancakes will start to form bubbles around the edges and will be golden brown when done. Add more butter to the skillet or griddle as needed, probably every third or fourth batch.
- All ingredients listed as ounces have been measured by weight rather than volume.
- Orange Syrup can be made the day before but is best when made the same day.