Muffy Vhay: An ode to griddle cakes, an old cookbook and an old stove

Muffy Vhay's old  fashioned buttermilk griddle cakes.

Muffy Vhay's old fashioned buttermilk griddle cakes.

My go-to cookbook for old fashioned comfort foods like pancakes, macaroni and cheese, chocolate pudding and more is a tattered 1959 edition (the 10th since the first in 1896) of the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook.

I’m sure many of you have this book tucked away somewhere. I received mine as a gift in 1960 — long before I had a kitchen to use it in — and have been hauling it around ever since. It’s the most basic of basic cookbooks and wonderfully simple and forgiving. I remember using it in the kitchen of the stone house — our family home — where I grew up.

The house had a large, black, and almost evil-looking commercial range — two ovens, six burners, a huge griddle and broiler — the works. I’d love to have that range in our kitchen now, but it went away in a remodel, so it’s only a memory. I remember that great big griddle full of pancakes — griddle cakes — on a Sunday morning. We can’t really replicate that in our kitchen, but we do have a wonderful old cast iron griddle that spans two burners and produces great pancakes, quesadillas, and the like.

The recipe for the pancakes came out of that old cookbook, and I have been making them, albeit with a few changes, for years. In my opinion, there really is no comparison between home-made pancakes and those made from a mix. For just a minute or two more of your time, you can make a lighter, tastier and fresher pancake. And you can fiddle with the ingredients too — use different flours, flavors, add an extra egg or some fruit.


This is a basic, versatile, and simple pancake. It’s quick to make, light, and tasty. Many of our Bed and Breakfast guests have requested these over and over again. Recipe as written serves two or three, and can be doubled or tripled easily.

Put in a medium-large bowl and mix well:

3/4 cup buttermilk (you may need a bit more later)

3 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

2 large eggs

In a sifter, or in a smaller bowl, measure out:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients; mix well. If needed, add enough buttermilk for a texture like heavy whipping cream. Cook on a hot, greased griddle, turning once, and serve immediately with butter and syrup.


Pumpkin/winter squash: Add 1/2 cup pureed squash or pumpkin and 1/2 teaspoon each Nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger

Apple: Sauté one peeled, sliced apple in butter and add to batter

Foldovers: Thin batter with more buttermilk, and make large (8- or 9-inch )pancakes. Put about 1/2 cup sugared berries and a dollop of sour cream or crème fraiche in the center and fold in half. Dust with powdered sugar and add more fruit if you like.

David and Muffy Vhay own Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.


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