Sunday morning pancakes

03 Jan 2010, comments

Making pancakes on Sunday morning has been my tradition ever since I left home more than 30 years ago. I fairly quickly settled on this recipe, which I'm sure I've made more than 1000 times by now. I had the pleasure of making a batch of pancakes for our friends Jim and Claudia this morning, and Claudia's parents who are visiting from Germany. Since they asked for the recipe, it seems like time to share.

First mix together the dry ingredients:

3 T sugar  
1.5 cups of white flour  
1/2 t baking powder  
3/4 t baking soda  
1/2 t salt

then add the wet ingredients:

3 T vegetable oil  
1 egg  
2 cups buttermilk  

Use a whisk to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Do not over work the batter. A few lumps won't matter, they will disappear during cooking. I find it is easier to get everything mixed nicely if I use only about 3/4 of the buttermilk at first, and then I add the rest until the consistency is just right.

In some places, like here in Quinson, buttermilk (lait fermenté) can be difficult to find (don't try to use lait caillé, I made that mistake once, it's way too thick). Satisfactory results can be obtained using runny yogurt, probably thinned with some milk to get the right consistency. Or you can curdle milk by adding some vinegar. But it is important to use some sort of sour or fermented milk product. The combination of the acid and the baking soda gives you the nice fluffy bubbles you want.

The temperature of the pan is quite important. You want it reasonably hot, and evenly hot. A cast iron pan or griddle, or a teflon coated crepe pan works well. Pour some batter in the center of the pan, and spread it out so it's not too thick. Cook on one side until the bubbles are popping and staying open afterward, then flip over and cook on the other side (not very long). With a teflon pan no oil or fat is needed for cooking. In a cast iron pan I use a thin coating of vegetable oil. While it is often said that you should plan to throw away the first pancake, these mistakes come from either having too much oil or fat in the pan at first, or having the pan too hot or too cold. With enough experience you can avoid these mistakes.

This will make about a dozen full-sized pancakes. Stretching the recipe is a bit of an art -- doubling works well enough, but in-between quantities using 2 or 2.5 cups of flour are tricky, because you basically have to use either one egg, or two. One egg will stretch out to handle 2 cups of flour well enough -- beyond that, use 2 eggs and scale the other ingredients accordingly.

Serve hot, with butter and real maple syrup, or honey, or jam or compote. (Fake pancake syrup is an abomination.) If you heat the toppings, that's really nice.


How could I have forgotten to mention variations? Blueberries are my favorite -- just throw some in each pancake after pouring out the batter in the pan. Some mushed banana or applesauce can be added to the batter itself -- with applesauce, reduce the milk somewhat, and be careful because applesauce will cause the pancakes to lose some of their structural integrity and they'll be difficult to cook through. Chocolate chips? No, I don't do that.

Or you can replace half a cup of the white flour (or more, up to a cup) with whole wheat flour, or buckwheat flour, or corn meal.