Monday, September 05, 2005

The buttermilk pancakes

The weekend demands a higher class of breakfast. Pancakes are perfect. They can be made in under 15 minutes and everybody likes them. If you have no real maple syrup, though, I advise you to wait until you find some before eating these.

I like sturdy, flavorful, tender, airy pancakes. I like them at least half an inch thick, with big bubbles of air and dark brown surfaces. Like bread, a pancake should have a contrast in texture between the outside (crisp) and the inside (moist). It should also taste fantastic and not be a mere excuse to eat butter and syrup.

To make them you need a hot griddle and a few staple ingredients. If you have no buttermilk you may substitute a combination of plain yogurt and milk. But you do need a dairy ingredient that has some acid, which tenderizes wheat flour and reacts with baking soda to leaven the cakes. Be sure to heat the griddle before you do anything else and take the extra bit of effort to warm up your syrup. Cold syrup on hot pancakes is an abomination.

This recipe has its origins in an old version of The Joy of Cooking, but over the years I have made it my own.

The buttermilk pancakes
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
2 tbs sugar
2 tbs butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, shaken well
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
at the table: cold butter and warm maple syrup

Preheat your griddle.

Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Combine the wet ingredients and mix well. Mixing as little as possible, combine the wet and dry ingredients. If it looks really thick, add a bit more buttermilk.

Test the griddle to see if it's hot: wet your fingers and flick the water onto the griddle. If it evaporates at once, you're cooking. (I have read that letting the batter rest a while makes better pancakes, but these couldn't really be a whole lot better and I'm too hungry in the morning to wait.) I spray the griddle with Pam, but if your griddle is nonstick and probably if it isn't, the butter in the batter should be enough to keep these from sticking.

Drop about 1/4 cup of batter to make a pancake. I often drop them from a 1/4 cup measure sprayed on both sides with Pam. Flip when bubbles begin to set (i.e., they burst and hold a crater shape) and the bottom is a dark brown. Flip again when the second side is brown and the pancake feels firm to the touch. Hold in a 200 degree oven while you make the rest.

Eat them as soon as you can and, if possible, feed some of them to a child.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We definitely had the same idea this weekend -- I made buttermilk pancakes (I used a slightly different recipe and a 1950s cast aluminum electric griddle/waffle maker), and did feed some of them to a child.

In fact, after her aborted attempt at a nap, she ate the two remaining pancakes. "I ate all your pancakes, Stacie. You can't have any." High praise.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in the UK now and have been jonesing for the buttermilk pancakes from my youth for years. I finally found a store that sells buttermilk here so I got back and looked for a decent recipe. After 20 minutes of not really liking anything the picture did it for me.

For me this was emotional - really. I'm not quite sure why but the smell and the flavour, I probably haven't had these since I was 10. It was pretty awesome (especially as I'm a touch hungover and have had 3 hours of sleep!).

I didn't manage to get the rise our of mine like you did, even with double the baking powder. Does AP have baking powder in it?

Anyway the kids loved it too and hopefully I'm starting a new tradition here in Nottingham.

Thanks and cheerio!

5:07 AM  

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