If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career as a parent, it’s this: It does not take a whole lot to make a kid happy. I knew a mom a while back who had a special favorite pink plate reserved for sick days, so when her daughter was home with the flu, there was at least one bright spot in the day if she had the stomach for a Saltine or two. (Prompting her daughter to once say “I love being home sick!”) I know parents who decorated their 13-year-old daughter’s room with homemade flag banners and crowned her with a paper tiara for her half birthday. (Prompting the 13-year-old daughter to instagram a shot of the whole affair with the caption “I love my parents!”); I know another dad who randomly announces “Carvel Night!” at the dinner table and then bolts with the kids, without cleaning up, to the nearest outpost in order to secure their Flying Saucers and soft serve vanilla on a wafer cone with rainbow sprinkles. (Prompting the mom at that dinner table, who I, ahem, know very well, to say “Are you sure you’re all not just trying to get out of clean-up here?”)
As long as we’re on the topic of sprinkles. These pancakes: They are in Joy the Baker‘s newest book, Over Easy, a gorgeous little collection of recipes devoted to breakfasty brunchy meals and features the kinds of dishes — Buttered-Pecan French Toast, Chicken and Maple Waffle Sandwiches, Brown Butter Banana Bread Doughnuts — where you’re like Yes, those are the foods that make everyone happy. How have I forgotten that?
I stopped on the Happy Birthday Pancakes photo, though, which are classic fluffy buttermilk numbers, but include the kind of small detail that will yield big birthday memories for a kid: the rainbow sprinkles folded into the batter. So simple, so doable, so sweet.
Even sweeter: A Giveaway! Comment below to be eligible for a free copy of Over Easy. One reader will be chosen at random and contest ends on Wednesday, April 5 at 5:00 pm ET. Thanks Joy!
Happy Birthday Pancakes
Speckled with rainbow sprinkles and made in a small, stackable batch, they’re a surprise just for the birthday boy or girl.
2⁄ 3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon baking powder
1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon baking soda
Generous pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 ⁄4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon plus a dash of pure vanilla extract
1 ⁄ 2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
About 1 tablespoon clarified butter (or regular butter) for the pan
2 tablespoons multicolored jimmies (sprinkles to Northeasterners!), plus more for topping
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter, and ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Pour the whole mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until the wet and dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Let rest for 10 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream by hand or with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes, until it holds very soft peaks. Add the confectioners’ sugar and a dash of vanilla and beat for about 3 more minutes, until it forms slightly firmer but still spoonable soft peaks.
4. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt about half of the clarified butter.
5. Just before cooking the pancakes, fold 2 tablespoons of jimmies into the batter. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into the skillet. Cook until browned around the edges, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancake and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter, adding the rest of the butter to the pan to cook (you should have 6 small pancakes).
6. Stack all of the pancakes on a plate. Top with the whipped cream, sprinkle with more jimmies, light a candle, and sing “Happy Birthday”!
Reprinted from Joy the Baker Over Easy. Copyright © 2017 by Joy the Baker, Inc. Interior and cover photographs by Jon Melendez. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Update: The winner has been notified. (Congrats Heather!) Thanks to everyone who played.