When we were growing up, my Dad was the designated dessert maker. He cherished this role.
He loved preparing a treat for all of us in the kitchen. Although he made some pretty great stuff, most of the time, it was a big bowl of ice cream – always topped with sprinkles.
He just really enjoyed making little things a tiny bit more special for us.
We would always ask, “Hey, what are you making in there?” To which the reply was, “You’ll see!” We knew not to peek, not to press. My dad loved the element of surprise and he would beam when we “oohed and ahhed” over his sweet treats.
One day, completely out of the blue, my Dad made us strawberry shortcakes. He used the delicious, artificial-sugary grocery store sponge cakes, Cool-Whip and sliced strawberries. It was an instant classic. From then on, strawberry shortcake was his signature dessert and he made it for us all the time.
These Strawberries and Cream Pancakes are inspired by my dad’s favorite TV dessert. The pancakes are made of a homemade whole-grain mix, which is easily prepared and can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer indefinitely, always on-hand for more pancakes.
The taste is definitely wheaty and sturdy, with a nice oatmeal texture. However, they are also moist and light. The texture holds up nicely to the tart, bright and sweet strawberries and sparkly, fresh whipped cream. While I’m partial to the taste of strawberries and oatmeal, feel free to use any fruit in these pancakes (I think bananas, peaches, blueberries or raspberries would all be great!).
Overall, I find them to be a nice, healthy break from heavy, laden pancakes. Not to mention, they have a dreamy, strawberry shortcake taste that brings me back to those days of my Dad’s famous desserts.
This post would not be complete without a typical story of my Dad and dessert. You see, even when my Dad was very sick with cancer, he still loved a treat.
One of the last times I visited my Dad, we stopped by and surprised him with some ice cream. Only this time, I prepared dessert. We all sat at the kitchen table – each of us with our bowls of ice cream and spoons.
All of a sudden, my Dad started to get up.
At that point, he was in very bad physical condition; paralyzed on one side and unable to walk without assistance. Sadly, something as simple as getting up was no longer easy.
It was a dramatic scene: chairs were being moved out of his way, his walker fell over, Chris was helping him get to his feet. We were all concerned, asking him at the same time: “Where are you going?” “Do you need help?” “What are you trying to do??”
He was silent and would not be deterred. We let him go, curious as to what he was doing.
He shuffled over to the cabinet, opened the top door and somehow reached his one good arm up high.
He took something from the shelf and slipped it under his paralyzed arm like a tiny football. He slowly made his way back to the table, all of us watching in awe.
He placed the container on the table and simply said: “Sprinkles.”
The man knew how to enjoy dessert.
Love you, Dad.
- 4 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour
- 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 3½ cups old-fashioned or rolled oats
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- For the pancakes:
- 1 cup homemade mix
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp. orange juice
- To make the mix: Grind the oats in a food processor until they’re chopped fine, but not a powder.
- Put the flour, oats, and all other dry ingredients into a mixer with a paddle. Mix on slow speed, and drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running.
- Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature, or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.
- To make pancakes: Whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup of buttermilk (or a combination of half plain yogurt and half milk; or ¾ cup liquid whey), and 1 large egg. Don’t worry if it seems thin at first: the oats will soak up the milk, and the mix will thicken a bit as it stands.
- Let the batter stand for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
- Heat a lightly greased griddle to medium-hot.
- Drop the batter onto it in ¼-cupfuls.
- Let cook until bubbles appear. (If you are using strawberries, or any other fruit, drop them into the pancakes now.) Flip and cook about 2 minutes more until both sides are evenly browned.
- Serve pancakes immediately, or stack and hold in a warm oven.