Big Pancakes

The rest of the world calls them crepes, but to my family they will always be known as Big Pancakes.

My dad’s mom gave the recipe to my mom; rumor has it that my grandma received the recipe from her mother-in-law, my great-grandmother.

When I was growing up, my mom was the Big Pancake maker in our house. Our family of six (excluding Mom) sat at the table while Mom stood at the stove, serving us hot big pancakes one at a time. The first pancake was always a test to see if the pan temperature was correct; it might not look pretty or be in a perfect circle but it still tasted good. After that first pancake, the rest seemed to flip from pan to plate with ease. When it was finally my turn to get a big pancake, I would spread the butter on the thin pancake that covered my whole plate, sprinkle a little white sugar all over, spear one edge with my fork and roll the pancake up. It didn’t take long to eat such a wonderful pancake, and then I had to wait for my turn all over again.

Big Pancakes were served for supper much more often than for breakfast. Dad would even request Big Pancakes for his birthday dinner. My dad is now the official Big Pancake maker of the family. Every time we go visit him, the girls insist on having Big Pancakes. Instead of supper, we eat them mostly for breakfast. They are such a treat for the girls because I am afraid to make them. The pan must be the right temperature and the spatula must be thin and flexible enough to flip the Big Pancakes. I have never been brave enough to get out the recipe and make them for my own family.

Dad has emailed me the directions:

Now this is how Mom (Emma) told Loreeta how to make big pancakes. 6 eggs. 1 cup flour. 1 cup milk. 1/8 cup sugar (to taste). dash of salt. Preheat and butter lightly a heavy frying pan. Put in enough batter to cover bottom of pan; roll pan to cover surface and make batter very thin. Turn; serve when golden brown. Loreeta always did this very well, but cussed at the pan when it wasn’t hot enough; and that is important, because when the pan is just the right hotness (temperature) it makes the best pancakes. I have taken to using some “half ‘n half” milk, because we usually have that 1% stuff in the refrigerator. and I add some vanilla — to taste, as we say. And the only way to eat them is with butter and sugar, rolled up with a fork.

My cousin adds more details on how to eat Big Pancakes.

We made Big Pancakes for Jane’s birthday when [my fiance visited]. He wanted to pollute them with, I don’t know, peanut butter or syrup or something ghastly. We corrected him quickly–and so, he complied…and ate them with butter and sugar–and LIKED them. And, the pancake has to be sprinkled with a sufficient amount of sugar to be able to hear the crunch between your teeth.

Another cousin has a slightly different recipe. She agrees that the temperature of the pan needs to be perfect.


6 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbls sugar
4 Tbls melted butter
1 tsp salt

Beat eggs. Stir in milk. Add flour, sugar, salt. Mix until smooth. Stir in butter. Bake on hot griddle (or non-stick pan). Place on plate. Spread with butter and sugar. Roll with fork. enjoy!

This recipe clearly doesn’t describe the importance of the size or thickness of the pancake. The temperature of the pan is important as well.

Even our cousin who lives in the United Kingdom is teaching her children how to make Big Pancakes. She wrote in one family email, “had big pancakes today for brekkie…”

Big Pancake are definitely made and served with love in our family. I think it’s about time that I give them a try. Tomorrow is Saturday, and I’ll have plenty of time to heat the pan correctly….

I haven’t even told you about my grandma’s fabulous cinnamon rolls!!

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9 Replies to “Big Pancakes”

  1. I love this! What a terrific familial tradition! I bet that, as the mom, you now always make the sacrifice and eat that first weird big pancake. When I first loved to LA, I rented a house in the hills that had an old gas stove in it which had a griddle in the middle. On the temperature dial of the griddle someone, many years ago, had scratched a line deep in the paint. After some experimentation, that line proved to be the perfect temperature for pancakes. I thanked that previous owner many times over the years for their thoughtfulness!

  2. I love big pancakes. When I was a kid, I called them panacakes, and no one corrected me because they thought it was too cute.
    I love familial traditions. We have one with waffles in our barnyard shaped waffle iron!

  3. Wow, this is a labor of love that sounds so outstanding. Would it be cheating to top with nutella and bananas? Also, I promise cinnamon rolls will be easier than your grandma’s Big Pancakes. Now that I’ve fiddled with the yeast, my courage is up, so maybe I’ll give Big Pancakes a whirl too. Thanks for sharing the great family story.

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