I put my best advice for making your own pancake art in this book, but here are some tips that will get you started.
First, make sure you have a nonstick surface. Butter and oil tend to make the images bubbly and indistinct. Personally, I love the 12-inch Spanpan I got a couple of years ago. I ended up loving it too much, though – it accompanied me on a vacation and got lost. So lately I’ve been using some of my stand-by pans, and do like the shallow lip of the crepe pans.
Next, you’ll need a squeeze bottle of some sort. I started out using a turkey baster, but can attest that a wide-mouth squeeze bottle is much nicer. I’m currently using this kind, though I wish they had little tiny caps for the nozzles. Like gnome hats.
I’ve done a lot of experimenting with recipes, and ended up composting some of the results (too much garbanzo bean flour?). If the kids feel like doing some measuring, I’ll mix up some batter with the recipe below. It’s enough for two kids and me, but you might want to double the recipe. Most days I take the easy road and go with an off-the-shelf mix.
1.5 c flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
2 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp melted butter or substitute
~1.5 c soymilk
I add additional soymilk and mix thoroughly to get a smooth, thin batter that won’t clog the nozzle. I mix the heck out of it with an electric hand mixer.
I mix in a little cocoa powder in one bottle, to get the dark tones without risking a burnt flavor. This is optional – you can make good stuff without it too.
Now for the fun part – you can make whatever you want! If you mixed up some cocoa batter, use that first, to put down the darkest areas. Lay down the midtones using the white batter, letting it bubble. Add the parts you want lightest last, then flip the pancake and see what you got.