Nothing says weekend indulgence like a pancake and nothing tastes better than a pancake served up by someone else. But what happens when you’ve moved out and a weekly trip to IHOP just isn’t in the budget? You learn how to do it yourself. This recipe is simple and a great starting point for many variations.
I’ve said before that cooking is chemistry; pancakes are a perfect example. Light, fluffy pancakes are the combination of an acid base reaction and the proper addition of heat. Too hot and the outside of the pancake burns before the batter can set. Too cool and the bubbles will escape before the batter cooks enough to trap the air.
This recipe yields 21 5″ pancakes. If you use full fat buttermilk, you may have slightly fewer as this yields a thicker batter.
- 4 TBSP butter, melted
- 2 eggs brought to room temperature
- 3 cups buttermilk (full fat is best, but fat free works do NOT substitute milk with lemon or vinegar)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 5 TBSP sugar (less if adding something sweet to the batter such as bananas or chocolate chips)
- 2 cups all purpose (plain) flour
- *optional* vegetable oil for greasing a regular, not nonstick skillet
Measure the liquid ingredients into a large bowl and set them aside. This gives the liquids a chance to come to room temperature without spending too long in the bacterial “danger zone.”
I melt my butter in a metal measuring cup on the griddle as it preheats. I do this mostly out of laziness. The speed of chemical reactions is dependent on the temperature at which they occur. Cold ingredients cause a slow reaction. Room temperature ingredients yield larger bubbles that are trapped by the batter in the cooking process.
Whisk together the dry ingredients.
Heat your pan.
If you have a nonstick, electric griddle, I find it unnecessary to grease the surface. (Unless you’ve had trouble with items sticking) Heat the griddle to 300. If using a heavy skillet, drizzle a small amount of vegetable oil into the pan, then use a paper towel to spread it in a thin layer. Too much oil makes the first batch of pancakes gross. If you are using the stove, heat the pan on low. Hotter does not equal better, be patient and allow your pan to heat before cooking the pancakes.
While the pan heats, pour half the dry ingredients into the wet. Whisk thoroughly, breaking up any lumps. Add the second half of the dry ingredients to the batter and stir it just enough to bring it together. If you overstir, you’ll release the air bubbles that are the point of this whole project. Set the batter aside and find your 1/3 measuring cup.
Giving the batter a couple minutes to rest allows the reaction to get underway.
When the very edge of the pancake has set and there are bubbles across the entire cake, use a spatula and flip the pancake. This takes a little practice. Slide the spatula completely under the cake before flipping. If you only grab an edge you increase your chance of dropping the cake which is disappointing.
If you’re like me and enjoy bacon with your pancakes, the already hot, but not on oven is a perfect place to store the pancakes until it is time to serve everyone.
Since I highly recommend room temperature batter, don’t save the leftovers for another day. Finish cooking the batch if there are too many for your needs. Place the leftovers in a single layer on a sheet pan or plate and place in the freezer. Once frozen, place in a zippered freezer bag and store in the freezer. They can be thawed in a toaster or the microwave for a quick weekday treat.