A few years ago, when a friend was visiting, I offered to make her chocolate chip pancakes the morning that she was leaving. But I am terrible at making pancakes.
Of an entire bowl of batter, I think we ended up with two.
The rest of the batch were either burnt and charred or worse, still goopy inside, wet and uncooked. It’s a good thing there was also cereal around or, frankly, we’d have starved.
I probably don’t have to tell you my problem was timing: Over and over, I’d leave the batter on the skillet too long, or not long enough. I am fairly terrible at timing, and I think it’s safe to say this is not just with pancakes.
You may be aware that Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras also tends to fall on the same date as National Pancake Day.
The origin of this connection goes back to England, when people prepared for Lent by clearing out their pantries of all dairy products (butter, eggs, milk) which would be forbidden during the 40 days until Easter.
Again, I’m a little off with my timing when it comes to the post date of this recipe.
The truth is, I’ve been wanting pancakes since I saw a picture of these, piled high and drenched in syrup and butter. Last Saturday, it was time to try this thing again.
A few initial findings:
- When you put the batter on the skillet or on an electric griddle, you really have to leave it there for a few minutes. No nervous peeking underneath to see how it’s coming.
- If you do things right, small air bubbles will appear on the uncooked top of the batter that’s facing you, about three minutes after you put it on there – and that’s how you know when to flip.
- Because I am just one person, it’s a good idea to cut any pancake recipe in half if I’ll be breakfasting alone.
(Of course, attempting to divide things in half in your head, especially while you’re also watching TV online, can be problematic. I ended up creating a full batch of the dry ingredients and sectioning off half to use next time. Maybe this will turn out to be a good thing?)
But here’s what really matters: it worked.
After three minutes on each side on the hot, oiled skillet, the lumpy batter turns smooth and golden brown, with beautifully darkened edges that are just slightly crispy.
Buttermilk adds a rich, subtly sour flavor to the pancakes, complemented by the tartness of the fresh berries, which is especially nice topped with real maple syrup.
And the soft texture, creamy and warm as it dissolves on your tongue, at once acidic and also sweet, makes a great start to your morning – any morning, anytime.
Cooking by the Numbers…
This recipe makes 8 large six-inch sized cakes or 16 smaller pancakes, so don’t be afraid to halve it if you need to. Of course, you could keep the batter raw in the refrigerator and make a couple of meals out, of it or even cook all of it and freeze the leftovers for later use.
Step 1 – Organize and Prep
Measure out and organize all of your ingredients.
Step 2 – Mix the Dry Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients including the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
I used a balloon whisk but you may want to choose a different style, as you will see below.
Step 2 – Mix the Wet Ingredients and Blend
In a separate medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, and then add in the buttermilk and butter and whisk until everything is incorporated.
Pour the buttermilk mixture into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. It’s okay if the batter is a little lumpy. You do not want to overmix.
Note that I wasn’t overly fond of the wire balloon whisk in blending in the batter. Portions congealed on the insides of the wire cage and it took some digging to get it removed. An easy-release silicone whisk would have been better for this.
Do not over blend the batter. Over mixing encourages the formation of gluten strands, which would make the pancakes too chewy and more like homemade bread.
Step 4 – Fold in the Blueberries
At this point I switched to an OXO flat whisk as I needed to mix in the blueberries without crushing them, and that balloon-style version would have pulverized them.
Step 5 – Pour and Cook
Heat an electric or stove-top griddle or nonstick skillet to medium. In this case, I’m using a Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler. Add a bit of oil to the skillet.
Pour the batter onto the oiled surface. If you want large six-inch cakes as shown here, use 1/2 cup of batter for each. For smaller sizes, reduce this to 1/3 or 1/4 cup each.
Allow to cook until you see bubbles forming and leaving craters like the surface of the moon on most of the cake. The top can still be a bit runny with bubbles forming, popping, and refilling.
Step 6 – Flip and Brown
At this point you’ll want to flip the the pancakes and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes until they become golden.
Remove from griddle as soon as they’ve browned, plate up, and serve. Add some more chilled fresh blueberries for an added burst of sweet flavor to counterbalance the sweetness if desired (plus, they make a nice garnish).
You really don’t need any extra butter added to these. They are so good served warm right off the griddle. Serve with a natural maple syrup and watch as sheer joy appears on the faces of friends and family when they try a bite.
What about you? What’s your favorite type of pancake? Any cooking tips? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! And for something a little different, try our recipes for sweet corn pancakes or pumpkin spice pancakes or take a look at all of our best pancake recipes now.
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Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published March 2nd, 2009. Revised and updated January 19th, 2018, with additional writing and editing by Mike Quinn.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna has a Masters in Writing through Depaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.