Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pancake Picasso

Today I'd like to highlight my newest hobby/craft: pancake art.

Turns out if you try for a kangaroo, you'll end up with a half-decent obese squirrel.

The trick to a good pancake animal is to pour everything much skinnier than what you want your end result to be. The batter spreads out way more than you might think (note: my medium is a standard add-water Krusteaz mix. Obviously you could make your batter thicker to prevent so much spreadage, but I like to maintain the flavor integrity of the pancake as well. I won't make a dry pancake to make my art easier. I believe true art comes at the intersection of taste, aesthetics, and the thrill of the challenge of nature painting on a 350 degree canvas).

On top we have "Lumpish Bear." In the foreground is "Frida Cowlo." Unfortunately one of her horns got lost in the flip.

 This next piece exhibits a technique I like to call "interval batter application." I use it to add detailing to the interior of the pancake plain, in this case to add eyes and tusks to my shapely walrus. To do this, you apply small amounts of batter in the shape of the details you want to highlight, and then wait a bit. When you know some cooking has occurred (about 20 seconds---more time will give you more definition), add the next layer of batter. Let that layer cook, then flip (or add another layer! Let your soul guide your art and your spatula) and behold your masterpiece.

"Breaching Walrus"

Below is an example of a portrait where I probably should have used the interval batter application. The elephant has great form, and I think it really exudes the spirit of the savannah I was going for, but the it just begs, "Where the heck is the elephant's ear??" Answer: lost in the abyss of the silhouette. Some interval batter application hear would have allowed me to first establish an ear, and perhaps a brooding eye (elephants never forget), and only after those were set would I have add the rest of the body. A masterpiece crippled by my lack of foresight.

Also not the scruff on the elephant's underbelly: a sign I was too violent with my flip, leading to what experts call "batter drag."

Here's an example of what happens when you apply your batter with a heavy hand. See the head? Exactly. The poor giraffe's head has been enveloped by the surrounding batter, which was applied in excess. Despite this flaw, please note the beautiful texture on the legs, reminiscent of the stained glass of the Catedral de León, achieved by a variation on the Interval Batter Application in which details are formed not on top of one another, but beside each other (while still using timed application of course).


Graham is a great consumer of the arts, as is Patch, his loyal stuffed bear.

Here you go, Patch.

Ruby is also exploring pancake art, though her exploration has been more organic and free-form. She loves the interplay of texture and shape. While she hasn't developed a mature appreciation for pancake illustration yet, I know she's building a strong foundation for the traditional pancake form: the circle.

Ruby seen here enjoying a piece I titled, "Flat sphere."

I'm thinking of writing and self-publishing an e-book for beginning pancake artists. I'm toying with the title "Flapjack Fugue," or maybe "Flour, Water, Baking Powder, Egg, Spirit." Maybe I'll start a Kickstarter. You, dear readers, will be the first to know.

Until next time, happy pancaking.

**Please document and share your own pancake art journey with #pancakespirit.**



  1. Alas, I think I only ever got as far as a snowman. You have published 4 blogs this month; I am hoping that your brilliance will slip over into novel-writing?

  2. Nathan's Grandpa Haynes was also a pancake artist, one of the best. It usually took several hours to complete our breakfast meal one painstaking pancake at a time. I think Graham and Ruby have a good chance of being extraordinary as the talent comes through both their maternal and paternal blood lines.


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