Or at least that is what my kids call them…
My wife does most of the cooking at our house, for which I am grateful. Occasionally, depending upon the circumstances, I may have to substitute; but I work off a set of pre-written, precisely detailed instructions my wife has left me so my chances of truly ruining anything is greatly reduced.
Sometime early on in the childhood development of our kids, I started making pancakes on Saturday mornings. It has become something of a weekly ritual. Every once in a while I may switch to making waffles, but pancakes have become my area of expertise. A few people who have eaten them ask about my recipe, so I thought I would write it up in a post.
Any good cooking depends upon two things: a good recipe and a cook’s experience cooking the recipe. I’ll break down my recipe and my tips.
Originally when I started my pancake odyssey, I tried boxed pancake mixes and Bisquick as a flour base and used whole milk to mix, but I couldn’t produce the kind of pancake I liked. I wanted to cook a plate of pancakes Michelle Obama would publicly condemn, but devour in her kitchen when the press wasn’t looking. A plate of pancakes that could easily make it onto those yearly health magazine lists of “Breakfasts You Should Really, Really Avoid.”
Then, I thought about going entirely from scratch, so I started scanning cook books. I figured it would take a bit of time to prepare, but ultimately, the pancakes produced would be so much more superior. Additionally, I wanted to use buttermilk rather than normal milk. I am sure it has to be the unhealthy, heart-killing, stroke-inducing elements in the buttermilk that makes them good, but the pancakes made from buttermilk I just loved.
I finally landed on a recipe I liked. It was taken from a cook book that is supposed to provide you with the “top secret” recipes of famous restaurants. This one was for pancakes made at International House of Pancakes. Here’s the list of ingredients.
- 2 & 1/2 cups of flour
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder (Yes. “soda” and “powder” are two different things).
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla (though you can adjust to your taste)
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
- 3 cups of buttermilk
And just to let you know, I have already doubled the recipe, because the paltry amount of pancakes the original yielded eventually became unsatisfactory to meet our family’s needs. This recipe makes around 12-14 (or more, depending on how big you make them) pancakes. If you need less, you’ll have to divide the measurements in half.
Now. I grab my mixing bowl and add together all my wet ingredients first. One thing that is absolutely necessary in my preparation is a hand-held mixer. I have found it essential as a time saver, as well as the means of distributing the ingredients evenly and smoothly through out. I long for the day we can get our selves a Kitchen-Aid mixer. [UPDATE: We now have a Kitchen-Aid mixer. Glorious times].
By the way, there is no particular order in which you need to mix the wet ingredients. I only make sure my buttermilk is in the bowl with my two eggs before I mix so I won’t slop the eggs on the counter.
Next, I add my dry ingredients. When I started making these pancakes, I would mix the dry ingredients all together in a separate, stainless steel bowl as seen in the picture above and then slowly, little-by-little, add the mixture to the wet ingredients mixing them as I added.
I have changed my technique over the last year since I took that picture. (Note my TeamPyro mug, btw). Now, after I have mixed the wet ingredients, I add each of the dry ingredients one by one and mix them together. I save the sugar and flour until last. With the flour, I add 1/2 cup measurements and mix as I go until I have added all the 2 &1/2 cups. Doing it in this fashion first keeps your mixer from burning out attempting to mix a big bunch of flour at once, and it removes any lumps that could remain in the batter.
Once that is done comes the griddling.
I have to use an electric griddle and a stove-top pan in order for the pancakes to be finished in a timely fashion. I pre-heat the oven to 200 while I am mixing the batter, and place a plate or metal pan in the oven to keep the pancakes warm as I cook them. Watch them, though, because they will dry out if you dither too long cooking. [UPDATE: I have since nixed the electric griddle. I only do stove top now].
I then use a 1/2 cup to 1 cup measuring cup to ladle the batter onto the hot griddle. As a bonus, you can add blue berries or chocolate chips (or both!). I add a handful AFTER I have ladled the batter onto the griddle. Sprinkle your berries or chocolate chips in the cooking batter. Doing it this way makes for an more even distribution of berries or chips.
I was once really fastidious about how long they cooked on each side, so I would set a timer to two minutes or so. Now I have learned to eye-ball them.
The original instructions called for you to oil a pan, or spray Pam on the griddle. I guess you could do this, but I found that the oil absorbed the heat and the pancakes did not get to that lovely, chestnut brown color I like. They came out more of a Labrador Retriever yellowish tan. I use a non-stick pan and use a little, if any Pam. The result is a fabulous pancake.
You can then serve them any way you like. With heart-attack bacon and sausage, and for the true food Pharisees, with fruit, like strawberries. Just don’t add whip cream like my family does.