Pancakes are among the most popular items to enjoy for breakfast. If you normally cook a big breakfast for your family on weekend mornings, pancakes are probably a part of the menu. In the summer months, however, your kitchen can get really hot with all the burners and electric gadgets cooking everything. Instead of sweating it out, consider cooking your breakfast outdoors in the backyard. It is simple to cook pancakes outside over a grill, as long as you have a griddle plate. Likewise, if you are out camping, it's fairly easy to cook pancakes over a campfire.
Heat your grill to a medium-high heat. If you are using a gas grill, brush the gas grill grates with vegetable oil with a pastry brush. Turn the grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes with the lid closed. After 15 minutes scrape the grill grates clean with a grill brush and reduce the temperature to a medium-high heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, burn the coals until they are gray and white with ash, about 30 to 45 minutes. Oil the grill in the same fashion as with the gas grill. Distribute the coals so that there is an even layer of heat on every part of the grill.
Mix your pancake batter in a mixing bowl using any recipe you like. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil when you are not using it to keep bugs out of the batter.
Spray a griddle pan or saute pan generously with cooking spray. You could also grease the pan with butter or vegetable oil.
Spoon batter onto the griddle to form round pancakes. For average-sized pancakes use a 1/4-cup measuring cup filled halfway with batter. If you are using a charcoal grill, use a wooden stick to move the coals around if there are any coals that look like they are dying out. Pancakes need steady, even heating to properly cook.
Wait for the pancakes to bubble up and the edges to start drying. Then flip them over with a spatula. Be careful when flipping pancakes over not to keep your hands over the grill for too long, as it is very hot and the heat will burn your skin.
Cook for no more than three minutes on the other side. Peek under the pancakes using the spatula to make sure that the underside is browned. Place the pancakes in an aluminum foil pan and cover with aluminum foil. This keeps the pancakes warm while you cook another batch and keeps insects and animals out. Repeat the process until you have made enough pancakes to feed your family.
Set a large grill rack over the campfire. The fire pit should have large flat rocks in a U-shaped perimeter around it. At the bottom of the U, place a large taller rock, which will act as a chimney, directing the smoke upward. It will also help protect the fire pit from breezes. Place the grill rack over the campfire so that it is held up by the rocks.
Distribute hot, ashen wood in the fire pit so that the heat is spread evenly around the cooking area. Another option is to push more of the wood toward the back of the pit, some in the middle and very little in the front. That way you can use the back of the grill for things that need high heat while you use low heat for another dish in the front. Pancakes should generally be cooked over medium-high heat, so set the griddle or pan closer to the back if you choose this method.
Prepare the batter for the pancakes. Any type of batter and recipe will work for campfire cooking. Cover the batter tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to protect it from insects.
Grease a cast-iron pan or griddle with butter or oil. Cast iron is a strong, durable material that can withstand the direct heat from the fire. Place the greased pan on the grill rack, toward the back where the higher heat is if you arranged the coals that way.
Spoon the batter by the half-full 1/4 cup onto the pan. Cook the pancakes in the same manner as on the grill, flipping them over when they are bubbling and the edges are drying. Also in the same manner, place finished pancakes in a covered aluminum foil pan while you make the rest of the pancakes.
Spray the griddle with more cooking spray for each batch of pancakes. Remove any bits of batter left on the grill before putting each new batch down as well.
To keep the finished pancakes warm place the aluminum foil pan to the front of the fire pit where the lowest heat is. If you are using a grill in your backyard, if it has a second rack farther away from the heat place the pan there. If not, place them in your oven on heat between 150 and 200 degrees F.
To heat syrup, place the syrup in a saucepan and place it on the grill rack on low heat. Use a cast-iron saucepan if you are cooking on a campfire. Cover syrup with aluminum foil to keep insects out.
You can use the lid of a cast-iron dutch oven to cook the pancakes on if you do not have a griddle pan or saute pan.
Never leave a campfire unattended and keep small children a safe distance away.