Sarah Vaughan’s “Cheek to Cheek” + Magic Multigrain Pancakes

I live in Michigan, where magical things happen, like snow in April. (Well, that can be magical or obnoxious, depending on your point of view, and how far you have to walk to get to work.) When I woke up this morning and saw the snow falling outside, the first and only thing I wanted to do was make pancakes!

We’ll get to those soon, but first I need to tell you about this wonderful rendition of “Cheek to Cheek” by Sarah Vaughan. I think that Sarah Vaughan is incredibly underplayed in the Lindy Hop scene – while it’s true that she is known for her slow ballads, she also recorded quite a few swinging tunes (her first professional experience was with the Earl Hines big band, for cripes sake), and in my experience, her warm, rich vocals and expressive sound always fill the floor.

This particular rendition of “Cheek to Cheek” stands out for a few reasons. Vaughan has a wonderful range of expression that give the familiar lyrics an especially beautiful feeling, and it is an absolute delight to move to her vocals. The instrumentation on this recording is really great, too – soft saxophones pipe along underneath the melody, the brass section occasionally pokes its head in, and there is a gentle but persistent percussive sound that I think is soft brushes on a snare, although I could be wrong. When it goes instrumental around 2:30, a clarinet (or penny whistle? I can’t tell) trills over a stronger brass line, and the overall effect is rhythmic and inviting. If you don’t have much Sarah Vaughan in your library, at 135 BPM, this tune would be a great place to start!

All right, then – back to pancakes. When I was at LAFLX this past weekend, on Saturday morning our wonderful hosts made us pancakes. They were good, but they used all white flour and didn’t quite fuel me up for a long day of dancing.

I played with the recipe, adding some whole grains and seeds for a more filling breakfast that keeps me energized and ready to dance! They’re tender and fluffy, they rise and bubble beautifully on the pan, and they’ve got a rich, complex flavor from the blend of flours and variety of seeds. I’ll definitely be making these at the next event I visit!

I topped my pancakes with sliced bananas, walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and just the lightest drizzle of honey. One of the best things about these pancakes is that they make a great base for almost any topping – applesauce, strawberries, peaches, syrup, whipped cream, whatever you want!

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Magic Multigrain Pancakes

Author: Mary Blendermann | Total time: 45 minutes | Yield: 8-10 pancakes

These healthy multigrain pancakes are tender, fluffy, and packed with delicious seeds and whole grains! They use mostly pantry ingredients, and the seeds and rye flour are easy to find at any bulk food store or co-op. If you’re cooking for more than four people, double the recipe. 

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups milk

1 egg

3 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/6 cup rye flour (about half of a 1/3 cup measure – it’s OK if this isn’t super precise; the goal is to have all the flours total about 1 1/2 cups)

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar (I used organic cane sugar)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 tablespoon chia seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, add milk, egg, and vanilla to the saucepan, and whisk until combined. Let it sit and get warm while you work on the dry ingredients. (Be careful not to boil it or you’ll have scrambled eggs in your pancakes!)
  3. While the saucepan mixture is warming, sift the flours, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon into a mixing bowl. Add seeds and whisk to combine.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and slowly pour the wet ingredients from the saucepan into the well. Using a whisk, stir very gently until just barely combined – there should still be plenty of lumps. This will help make your pancakes fluffy!
  5. Allow pancake batter to sit undisturbed in the bowl for 5-10 minutes. You’ll see bubbles start to develop across the top – that means the baking powder is working! The more bubbles on top, the fluffier the pancakes – have patience!
  6. While you’re waiting, warm a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and add a little extra-virgin olive oil.
  7. Using about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake, fry pancakes until brown on both sides. Watch for bubbles on the first side before flipping to the second side.

NOTES + ADJUSTMENTS

*I love crispy pancakes, so I like to add just a half teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil to the pan in between pancakes, and swirl it around the freshly dropped batter to get those crispy edges!

**My mom’s old trick to keep the pancakes warm was to turn the oven on the lowest setting (180 F), and add each fresh pancake to a glass casserole dish in there. If you’re cooking for a crowd, hide the pancakes in the oven until you’re ready to eat, or they might mysteriously disappear!

Make it naturally sweetened: Replace the sugar with 1 tablespoon honey and reduce the amount of milk by 1 tablespoon to account for the extra liquid.

Make it vegan: I haven’t tried this, but you could certainly try swapping a plant milk of your choice for the milk, a flax egg or 1/4 cup applesauce for the egg, and vegan butter for the butter.

Make it gluten free: Substitute an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend for the flours. You could also try using oat flour for part of the flours (grind oats in your food processor to make your own!).

Adapted from this Good Old Fashioned Pancakes recipe. 

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