You know when you go to the dentist and it feels like your cheek is filling up with air? I’m not talking the typical swelling and drooling that comes from a healthy dose of Novocain. This is a different sensation entirely – when you feel a quick and painful burst of air inflate your cheek like a party balloon that’s primed to pop. Then you sit up and your dentist stares back at you with a horrified and baffled look on his face as he hands you a mirror and says “Oh my, your face seems to be a little swollen”. He starts to look really worried and says with a trembling insecure voice reminiscent of an awkward pubescent male trying to talk to the head cheerleader, “It should go down soon, within an hour or two, for sure by tonight…definitely by tomorrow….but, call me immediately if it’s the same in 24 hours….actually call me first thing in the morning if the swelling doesn’t go down at all. You should be ok?” This did not fill me with confidence, just hot air.
After multiple trips to an array of dental professionals, medical journal consults and google searches occurred, an oral surgeon was finally able to determine what was happening in my mouth. It’s called subcutaneous emphysema and it is very rare yet very real. Of course, the treatment is to closely monitor it and wait it out while your body slowly absorbs the air, possibly taking upwards of two weeks. I spent the better part of last week resembling a cross between the kid in that 80’s movie, Mask, starring Cher and Quagmire from Family Guy. Still, over a week later, my cheek makes a strange crunching sound when I yawn or with any sudden mouth movements. It’s very strange and slightly unnerving.
The good news is I am on the mend and it wasn’t a life threatening situation. The pain was manageable. I work from home, so I was able to bury my inflated head in the sand while my cheek slowly deflated. This has been known to happen in other parts of the body, even during a colonoscopy. I cannot even imagine how awful that would be. Let’s just say it could have been a whole lot worse and significantly more uncomfortable.
After slurping only soup for the majority of the week, I was ready to consume something with a bit of substance yet something that wouldn’t bring me pain or discomfort. I embraced my inflated cheek and baked up a recipe that I could relate to, Hootenanny Pancakes with Bourbon Maple Syrup. Hootenanny Pancakes fill with air and puff when you bake them, so I felt like I’d found my brunch soul sister when the sweet puffy pancake inflated in the oven.
Hootenanny Pancakes also strike a chord of nostalgia with me. As a kiddo, my Mom would bake up a big ol’ batch for breakfast anytime I had a sleepover. Watching the batter rise up and puff into a fluffy pancake through the oven door was an honest to goodness hoot. The nostalgic comfort and inflated camaraderie of Hootenanny Pancakes brought a half smile to my swollen face and a a belly full of happiness. I’ve updated the sweet recipe of my childhood into a slightly more grown up version, incorporating bourbon infused maple syrup and warm, toasty pecans. These Hootenanny Pancakes with Bourbon Maple Syrup bring a puff of joy no matter how deflated you might be feeling.
I guess the moral of the story is, when life gives you an inflated face, make a puffy pancake.
Sprinkle liberally with toasted pecans and sifted powdered sugar.
Then get to drizzling with the bourbon maple syrup!
- large eggs - 3
- all purpose flour - 1/2 cup
- whole milk - 1/2 cup
- unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
- salt - dash
- cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
- ground nutmeg - 1/4 teaspoon
- maple syrup - 1/4 cup
- bourbon - 3 tablespoons
- brown sugar - 1 teaspoon vanilla - splash
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Put butter in a 10" cast iron skillet and place the skillet in the oven as it warms just until the butter has melted. Remove and set aside.
- Spread the pecans out on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes until they have lightly toasted and have a nutty warm aroma. Roughly chop once they've cooled.
- Vigorously whisk the eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla together until light and frothy. You can whisk by hand or using a stand or hand mixer on medium/high for 3-5 minutes.
- Whisk in the flour until combined.
- Pour the batter directly into the skillet on top of the melted butter, do not mix together. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges have started to brown and the center has puffed up and set.
- While the hootenanny pancake bakes, prepare the bourbon maple syrup.
- Warm the maple syrup and brown sugar in a small, heavy pot over medium heat until the brown sugar melts and dissolves completely.
- Then turn the heat down to low and stir in the bourbon and vanilla. Allow to simmer on low while the pancake finishes baking.
- Top the Hootenanny Pancake liberally with powdered sugar and toasted pecans. Serve with warm bourbon maple syrup.