(Reprinted from the 2012 issue of Columbia, written by Patrick Scalisi and illustrated by Ben Hatke).
On Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday, there’s a tradition to use up all the animal products (butter, eggs, etc.) in the house by making pancakes in preparation for the start of Lent. In commemoration of this tradition here is a Texas council’s pancakes that are so light that they almost float.
When Richard L. Wagner transferred to St. Francis of Assisi Council 12484 in Lancaster, Texas, in January 2009, he brought with him a culinary technique that transformed the parish breakfasts hosted by his new council: “Angel-Lite Pancakes.”
“Our secret recipe contains no water or milk,” Wagner wrote in a 2009 letter to Columbia magazine. “These ‘Angel Lites’ are so lite, they tend to float off the griddles and have to be plucked out of the air to serve them.”
In no time at all, Wagner’s recipe became the centerpiece of breakfasts held after Sunday Mass, and Wagner would take to the pulpit before each event to pitch his creation to parishioners.
“He always had a colorful expression to go with them. He said, ‘They’re so light, you’ll just fly away with them,’” said Thomas P. Germino Jr., who was grand knight when Wagner joined the council.
Besides the funds generated from the sale of the “Angel-Lite Pancakes” — which support the council’s charitable causes — the breakfasts have also brought parishioners closer together.
“That’s pretty much what the whole objective was: to have a place where the community could get to know one another,” said Germino. “We think that’s had a positive effect, because you get to know more people in the parish and grow into more of a family.”
Wagner passed away July 15, 2010, of complications from kidney failure, but his legacy lives on in the special pancakes that are still served by the council each month.
And now: The Secret Ingredient
Creating “Angel-Lite Pancakes” isn’t so much a set recipe as it is about making one simple substitution: exchanging the liquid requirement in any given recipe for ginger ale. Germino Jr. recommends using one cup of ginger ale for every one called-for cup of water or milk. (If the recipe calls for one cup of water/milk, use one cup of ginger ale; two cups water/milk will require two cups of ginger ale and so on.) Each brand will suggest a different ratio of mix to water/milk for their product.
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