Sunday, December 02, 2007
Fluffy buckwheat pancakes. Yes, it's possible. My Dad commented on these three times, using the word 'fluffy', and 'tasty'. He even asked if they had any vitamins and minerals in them, and I said, "Of course, they are made of buckwheat flour; see how dark they are?". I made these from the same bag of Bob's Red Mill Buckwheat Pancake & Waffle Mix that I've been using for a few weeks, what made the difference?
Well there's a story behind this cooking adventure. Maybe it's only me, but I've been noticing a real variation in quality of supposedly 'fresh', even 'organic' or 'free-range' eggs that I've been buying at the store, even the upscale stores. Here's an interesting write-up on eggs, including how to tell if they are fresh. Continuing my tale, one morning, my Dad requested pancakes for breakfast, and I thought I could do it because I had one 'fresh' egg left. NOT. The egg was not old according to the package, it came from a organic 6-pack, but when cracked the white didn't stand up, but was rather runny like water, a sure sign of an old egg. And extending the price for 6 out to the dozen equivalent, these would be $3.99 per dozen. This has been occurring much more frequently in the last six months or so. So I tried making the pancakes without the egg. Bad idea. They were crumbly to say the least, but Dad cheerfully ate them, crumbs and all. This gave me reason to remember that my mother often used powdered eggs in her baked goods, or quick breads such as pancakes.
Remembering that her use of powdered eggs in no way negatively affected the taste, I did some research and found a source of powdered eggs, and learned some other useful things. Most glaringly, the economy of it all. Checking out my local Safeway, one brand of organic eggs is $5.79 a dozen, and they are only Large grade "A", rather than the fresher "AA"! Many times I just pick up non-organic, but enhanced quality (all-vegetable feed, or high in omegas), which show up today as $3.99 for AA and Extra Large. The best buy with a Safeway Club card is if you buy 60 Large, fresh grade AA eggs, with no special treatment of the chickens. The price equivalent for the 60 egg best buy is $2.22 per dozen. And how many families can finish off 60 fresh eggs before they are too old??? A little research brought me to a Honeyville Farms product, Powdered Whole Eggs.
So after some more thought and consideration (keep reading for other positives), I sprung for a whole case. Here's the economy - each can equals 170 eggs, and there are six cans in a case. If you buy one can, the price including shipping comes out to the equivalent of $1.60 per dozen. If you buy one case, the price including shipping comes out to the equivalent of $1.08 per dozen! I suspect as with frozen fruits and vegetables, these may be very fresh eggs, going right from the farm, freshly laid, to be processed quickly. Here's another positive -- unopened, the cans have a shelf life of 5-10 years. After opening, they can be used, unrefrigerated for a year! When I opened the can, a fresh fragrance wafted up, and I noticed a desiccant package to help keep the contents fresh. A key to freshness will be keeping moisture out. And these eggs are pasteurized, so no life threatening salmonella will be lurking inside.
So how did the powdered eggs fare in real life cooking? Well, I measured my tablespoon of whole egg powder into the dry ingredients of the buckwheat pancake mix, added water and stirred. The consistency of the batter felt good.
And it poured well into the pan.
As my mother taught me, I waited for bubbles to break on the top of the pancake before turning. Have you ever seen anyone 'squish' the pancake with a spatula to be sure it's done through? It makes me shiver, as it completely undoes the fluffing action of the ingredients and leaves you a dense result. When you see the bubbles break open, you can turn it, and it only needs a brief cooking to done.
Yes, there are holes on one side of the finished product, but hey, how great for absorbing the toppings if you serve bottom side up! And if that doesn't appeal, you can always serve them right side up as the leading photo shows. What is apparent to me is that using these powdered eggs will ensure a consistency of end result, and more even mixing into the batter, hence all my Dad's remarks about fluffiness. These were the best batch I made out of the entire package of mix (I get a number of batches from each bag since I'm only making for two people). I don't remember my mother using them for egg only dishes such as scrambled eggs or omelets, so I don't know how these will fare there. I'll have to try that for a future post. But clearly, these are great for items where they are mixed in with dry ingredients and cooked. And the price makes these an incredible bargain. I think that my strategy will be to now spring for the VERY fresh local eggs at the farmers market for eggs which we'll eat sunny side up. And the farm-fresh eggs will have much better flavor (and probably nutrition, consider how yellow the yolks are!) than the local grocer's. To balance out the cost then, I'll use the powdered eggs in baking (well with a case, I'd better!).
I also found one place that sells powered whole ORGANIC powdered eggs, but since I filled out an on-line query at their site about how to buy, and I haven't heard back in nearly two weeks, I am not impressed. Also their product comes in 2-egg packets, so I'm not sure how economical or how long the shelf life will be either.
Posted by Anna Haight at 12:04 AM