Let's hear it for the board.

By Mackenzie Schieck
Mackenzie Schieck

There's something about filling up a board with an eye-catching bounty of delicious food that takes the experience of eating to a whole other level. And pancake boards are no exception. We've gathered everything you'll need to create a pancake board — from toppings and sides to how-to tips — so you can make a board that will have guests torn between adoring it and devouring it. That's the sweet spot.

Finding the Perfect Board

A pancake board acts as a frame for the food. You'll want a surface area that's larger than a typical cutting board, but big cutting boards are pricey! We get it. Try these alternative ideas:

  • If you have a salvage store nearby, you can often find large butcher block-type pieces of wood that are very reasonably priced. Just be sure to scrub it in hot, soapy water before you use it.
  • You can also go to a hardware store. Often they'll cut a board to the size you'd like, so you can cut one long board into three pieces, then just slide them together on your table. Again, be sure to wash your board(s) in hot, soapy water beforehand, or simply cover them with parchment paper.
  • One last other option is to use multiple cutting boards, pushed together.

Filling up the Pancake Board

  • Pancakes. Go with a classic like these Good Old Fashioned Pancakes, or get creative and whip up some Lemon Ricotta PancakesBuckwheat Pancakes have a little extra whole grain umph, Buttermilk Pancakes are also a delicious classic, and these Vegan Pancake are a great option for anyone with a dairy-free or vegan diet. (Check the label on your sugar to make sure it's vegan-approved.) Find more pancake recipes that are big on flavor.
  • Potatoes. These Roasted New Red Potatoes are great because you can prepare them first thing in the morning, then put them in the oven to warm while you're making your pancakes.

  • Bacon. This article has tips for how to cook bacon in the oven, making it easy to not only make a lot of bacon, but also prepare it ahead of time, and put it in the oven to warm with the potatoes while you're flipping those flapjacks.

  • Fruit. This can be for topping your pancakes (e.g. berries) as well as simply to eat alongside them (e.g. oranges, pears, etc.).

  • Nuts. Serve almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, or whatever you'd like. You may want to crush them (either slice with a heavy knife or put them in a resealable plastic bag and hammer them with a meat tenderizer) so they are easier to sprinkle. And if you get extra ambitious, make these Candied Walnuts.

  • Fancy syrups. Speaking of feeling extra ambitious, try one of these next-level homemade syrups to serve alongside a small pitcher of the classic maple variety.

  • Blueberry Syrup

  • Buttermilk Syrup

  • Citrus Wild Blueberry Syrup

  • Maple-Vanilla Syrup

  • Grandma's Buttermilk Syrup

Whipped cream. Say no more, right? You can make whipped cream ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight. If you're feeling extra fancy, make Bourbon Whipped Cream the night before, and just give a little whisk in the morning to reincorporate any booze that pooled overnight.

Creating Your Pancake Board, Step-by-Step

1. The night before: pancake board make-aheads

There are a handful of things you can do the night before to save time in the morning: e.g., prepare the pancake batter (make 2 to 3 batches, then store in a covered container like a mason jar), wash fruit (but wait to slice it), prepare pan with bacon, whip up fancy syrups, make candied nuts, etc. Note: If you make buttermilk pancake batter, mix and store the dry ingredients in one jar and the wet ingredients in a separate jar. Then mix the wet and the dry right before you're ready to make the pancakes, otherwise the batter could go flat if it sits overnight.

2. Map out the pancake board

You can do this the night before or first thing in the morning, but it's helpful to get an idea of where everything will go. Make sure you have all the plates, bowls, and serving utensils you'll need, and arrange them where you want them. Make little notes of where everything goes to be sure you've accounted for everything. You may make changes as you start adding the food, but it's nice to have a place to start.

Mackenzie Schieck

3. Pancake day: what to make first

Make all your hot items first, like potatoes and bacon, then put them in a 200 degrees Farenheit oven to stay warm while you make the pancakes.

Mackenzie Schieck

4. Arrange cold items on board

While your pancake griddle heats up, get out all your toppings that will be okay out of the fridge for the next 20 minutes, such as fruit and syrup. Be sure to take butter out of the fridge so it can soften. Slice up "finger fruits" like oranges, mango, peaches, etc. and set aside. If you're slicing apples, pears, and bananas, give them a quick dunk in lemon water so they don't turn brown.

5. Make the pancakes

Use a ladle or measuring cup to scoop and pour batter onto griddle to keep your pancake size consistent. And to keep them warm while you make additional batches, arrange them in a single layer on an oiled cooling rack and place them, uncovered, in a warm oven for up to 20 minutes. Optional: heat syrup (but don't boil) so it's nice and warm when guests pour it over the pancakes.

6. Place final items on board

If there's anything else from the fridge that needs to go on the board, like whipped cream, do this right before you arrange the pancakes. Then, add bacon, potatoes, and toppings that go in bowls. Next: pancakes! You can fan them out, arrange them in several short or tall stacks, or whatever you'd like. Lastly, fill in in empty spots on the board with sliced fruit.

Mackenzie Schieck

And that's it — serve right away!

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