Hi everyone, I'm excited that Rosie is letting me muscle in on the bakery to pass along some of my own culinary fun. There hasn't been a Saturday or Sunday morning lately without the stereo chime of "We want Pancakes!!" coming from both our girls. When you have young kids, it's very satisfying as a parent to find a food you cook that your kids nearly beg for, at least one that isn't cookies or cupcakes (no offense to my host here).
While our youngest usually adds "…with SYRUP!" to the end of her call, it isn't what it was when I first started searching for a good buttermilk pancake recipe - they don't make them swim in the syrup anymore.
Anyway, back to the journey. I remember when I was younger that a box of popular pre-made buttermilk pancake mix was all I needed. I finally realized there was more than those chewy pucks that I could make myself and I turned to my faithful friend, the internet, to help me find better.
I went through the whole gambit. Pancakes that were still batter in the middle. Pancakes so chewy that they were like gum. Pancakes that were so crispy on the outside that they slid across the pan when you tried to get under them to flip. Pancakes that were too thin, too thick, too big, too sloppy. Not to mention the clumpy melted butter no matter how room temp the buttermilk and eggs were when you mixed it.
So I finally just decided to break down each piece and tune them one at a time. It took a while, but I finally found the "Dadddddyyy… can we have pancakes?" recipe that I'm sticking with.
First, the cooking hardware. After trying flat pans, iron pans, an aluminum griddle, and even a cast iron griddle (on both gas and electric ranges), I finally found that the only way to go is an electric griddle. You can't buy the cheapest one on Amazon, but you can get one pretty cheap and it makes all the difference: constant temperature that is easily maintained and a large flat surface. Along with it you need a stiff, thin, spatula that is nearly as wide as the pancakes you intend to consume. I can tell you that if it is too flexible or skinny that you end up with batter pretty much everywhere when you flip. If it is too thick you can't get under the pancake to flip it and you feel like you're playing a bad food version of air hockey with a wet puck.
Next, the hardware that doesn't get hot. You'll need a large bowl and a medium bowl, preferably glass (the cleanup from whisking one handed in a metal bowl that starts to rock is really no fun). You'll need a big bulb whisk, a glass measuring cup, 2 small glass custard cups, a ladle, and a fork (more on that later). If you have small kids, add a cutting board and pizza cutting wheel, if you want to have a chance to eat your prize without spending the whole time cutting theirs. I also highly recommend putting your syrup in a condiment squeeze bottle, it helps with portion control and it can go in the microwave to warm up the syrup if you want.
Last there are the food goods. The recipe below has pretty much what the other 500+ recipes in google have (albeit in different amounts), but I've also added some Vanilla Bean Paste. A lot of cooks will tell you to get some good vanilla extract, but the paste (which you can find it at places like Whole Foods or online at Amazon), makes a huge difference. It's thick and syrupy and doesn't boil out of your batter like the extract does the instant it hits your griddle. If you can find it, I highly recommend it, you can really taste the addition.
One more tip, make sure your baking powder and baking soda aren't expired (or near expired). I learned that one the hard way. My limp and thin pancakes for a couple of weeks can attest to making that mistake.
Narrowing down the ingredients to what was best actually took less time than figuring out the right method. There are about 3 key points:
First, wet ingredient temperature. Every cook will tell you to have room temp buttermilk and eggs to work with. I tried, really did, but I just never got up early enough to set them out in time and it's a real bummer to set an alarm that early on a Saturday or Sunday just to put out some ingredients. Luckily, I worked out a solution - melt the butter in a custard cup (the microwave is your friend) before you do anything else, then pull out the buttermilk and eggs while you get the rest together (including making your coffee if you're a caffeine addict like me).
Second is the way in which you mix together the wet ingredients. I got all geeky with science - here is the best way to put it all together so that you don't end up with solidified chunks of butter in your buttermilk. The key is separating the eggs and using the proteins in the egg yokes to combine with the butter before you put all the water in the buttermilk and egg whites into the mix. Egg yokes are cooking magic science, they bind to fat and water if you use them right.
Third and last, is mixing time. It seems like a really easy thing, but you need to put the whisk down lonnnnng before you think the batter is mixed. Seriously. It's gonna be lumpy and ugly and you're never going to believe that it will make soft, fluffy, mouth-watering pancakes. I didn't trust at first and kept over-mixing. I'm a believer now.
Make 'em right and you'll soon be doubling and tripling the recipe so you can freeze 'em and serve them all week long. Let's get to making some breakfast.
Fluffy, light, buttermilk pancakes - perfect for a weekend breakfast. Makes 12 pancakes.
- 250 grams (~2 cups) AP Flour
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
- 2 cups buttermilk (room temperature)
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1. Bring buttermilk (in a measuring cup) and eggs to room temperature. Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine.
3. Separate the eggs into whites and yolks. Add egg whites to the buttermilk and whisk with a fork to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color slightly (about 30 seconds). While whisking continuously, drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until well combined. Continuing to whisk, drizzle in about 1/2 of the buttermilk-egg white mixture. Once that is fully incorporated, add in the rest of the mixture and whisk to combine (try not to work up a foam). Add the vanilla bean paste and give it a quick turn. Set aside.
4. Preheat your griddle to 300°and prep your tools so everything is ready to go. Now is a good time to pop a plate in the oven and set to warm(if you want to make them and serve them all at once).
5. Pour the Wet Ingredients onto the dry ingredients and whisk for about 10-15 seconds. Remember, do not over-mix this step. You just want to make sure that all the dry ingredients have been mixed with the wet. It will be lumpy and sludgy, don’t worry about it, it will all cook out for the best.
6. Your griddle should be about at temp, put a small pat of butter on the griddle, if it sizzles, it is too hot. You want it to melt smoothly. Spread it around with your spatula making sure to leave no pools of butter.
7. Immediately start to dose out the batter with a 2 oz Ladle. Try not to bounce the ladle too much so that you can preserve as much of the gas bubbles in your batter from the baking powder as you can. Try to leave a couple of inches between each pancake so you can flip and they can spread.
8. Give it a couple of mins and you should start to see bubbles in the batter (which should have smoothed out by now). It’s ok to use the spatula to peek under to see if they are already golden. As soon as they are good and golden, slide under and flip. Try not to get too high above the surface, again you want to preserve all those gas bubbles that are coming from the second hit of your baking powder.
9. Another couple of minutes and you should be able to move those off to either your warming plate or serving plates and start round 2. Don’t leave the griddle empty for too long, or it will get over-heated and the second set will either cook too quick or will burn before you flip them.
10. Serve warm. If you have young kids, now is the perfect time to setup a few pancakes on a cutting board and make short work of cutting them up with a pizza wheel. It is quick and doesn’t tear apart the fluffy goodness of your pancakes.
Makes 12 pancakes. If you have leftovers (a big if in my house), lay them out on wax paper on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer until they are good, hard, pucks. Then zip-top bag and label. They keep for a couple of weeks in the freezer unless you vacuum pack after initial freeze, in which case I don’t really know what the upper limit is.