Nathan Shields is a master pancake portraitist
Most of us, if we’re lucky, have memories from childhood of our parents making pancake art in the shape of whatever Disney character, comic book superhero, or animal we were into at the time. (For me, it was a cartoon pancake of Spot, the dog from Eric Hill’s great series of children’s books.) It’s relatively difficult to make a good round pancake, not to mention one modeled after a cartoon (Mickey Mouse is perhaps an exception), so these pancakes our parents made for us were often malformed and mildly disappointing. But surely the pancake artist Nathan Shields—yes, apparently there are pancake artists out there—never lets down those who are fortunate enough to dine on his expertly crafted flapjacks.
Shields, who regularly shares videos of his pancake art on his Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter pages, doesn’t merely perform globby guesswork with a ladle. His style of pancake portraits is infinitely more involved. Using a squeeze bottle, he layers intricate lines of batter onto a pan to make painterly caricatures of such celebrities as Adele, the late Arnold Palmer and Kobe Bryant. For pancake art, it’s remarkably accurate—and hard to do well, though Shields does provide some pancake art tips on his website.
If you want to up your pancake game, Shields suggests you use a non-stick pan and a wide spatula for easy flipping. The batter, which contains some combination of flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, applesauce, butter and soy milk, should be thin and well-mixed so it doesn’t clog the nozzle of your squeeze bottle, Shields advises. The hard part, it seems, is getting a dark tone without burning the pancake itself. To subvert that possibility, Shields says you might want to prepare a separate bottle of batter with cocoa butter so you can throw in some chiaroscuro effects and really impress your guests. On the other hand, you can still get nice shades if you’re patient and time the flip properly.
Some of Shields’ most recent subjects include presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This weekend, the second to last before the election, when the tension is high, certainly feels like an appropriate time to unwind, prepare your least favorite candidate in a pan and eat him or her for breakfast.