When it comes to pancakes, I've always scoffed at boxed mixes such as Aunt Jemima and Bisquick. With a basic formula of flour, sugar, baking powder, milk, and eggs, why not just make them from scratch on your own? And don't even get me started on artificially-flavored maple syrup—I'm from New England, where that stuff is practically illegal.
But recently, in my quest to find mixes with a bit of magic—ones that taste like the real thing, cut down on kitchen time, and are inexpensive—I came across Stonewall Kitchen Blueberry Pancake and Waffle Mix ($10). The Stonewall Kitchen company is based Maine, a.k.a. land of blueberries. If ever there was a pancake mix out there with all the flavor of homemade, I figured this would be it.
The label on the side of the canister listed enriched flour, blueberries, and yellow corn flour as the first three ingredients. I found this encouraging, as it seemed healthful and all-natural. To make the pancakes, all I needed to add was an egg, 3/4 cup of milk, and a tablespoon of melted butter.
Getting to Work
Mug of coffee in hand, I set to work on Sunday morning. The first thing I noticed when I dumped the mix into a bowl was how small the blueberries were. They looked like dried up, little blue peppercorns. Hmm. Maybe they would plump up when I poured in the milk? No such luck. Even after letting the mix marinate for a few minutes, the blueberries remained like tiny pebbles, floating in a sea of starchy goo.
No matter. Surely they would be delicious when cooked up inside a fluffy, buttery pancake. I scooped two ladles onto a hot griddle, where they immediately began to spread out, bleeding toward the edges of the pan in awkward, irregular shapes. Where were the perfectly round, pillowy pancakes I had been expecting?
Batch after batch, the same thing happened. My pancakes were flat as tortillas, and refused to hold a circular shape. When I ran out of batter, I sat down with a stack drowned in (pure) maple syrup. They tasted alright, but they were more like crepes than pancakes. I thought they would have been better folded around some jam. As for the blueberries? Their flavor was almost nonexistent. While the dried fruit did offer a little sweetness, I found myself longing for the big, juicy burst only fresh berries—dropped into each homemade pancake individually as it cooks—can provide.