Sunday, June 23, 2013

Classic Buttermilk Pancakes

Who doesn't love the special treat of warm buttermilk pancakes drenched in maple syrup and rich butter?  Well, in my household such pancakes are not exactly a treat---I make them from scratch several times a week for my four- and 1 year-old in place of stuffing mass-produced breakfast cereal down their throats. How can homemade pan bread sans preservatives be any worse than food from a box that doesn't expire for 2 years?

I treat pancakes like any baking endeavor: follow the directions in the strictest manner possible.  Even though I have been baking, quite successfully I might add, for over four years, I know that half the trick is finding a good recipe and repeating it to the point of perfection and being extra-diligent in following instructions including any learned adaptations.

Right when I started really taking baking seriously four years ago, I got a kitchen scale.  I will never go back to measuring cups--especially when it comes to flour.  If you want on-the-mark perfection when you bake, weighing your flour is a must! 

One thing to always remember with pancakes is not to over mix.  Otherwise you will develop the gluten in the flour and yield a more dense and chewier pancake than the desired airy, fluffy texture that we all love. A quick learning point I have found with pancakes is that not to "over-mix" does not necessarily mean to mix "over-gentle."  

You want all the flour to dissolve into the liquid, which cannot be achieved with over-gentle mixing.  Dissolving all the flour does not mean there shouldn't be lumps.  Remember, clumps are not lumps!  Because the butter is added last, there is plenty of time to ensure that no raw flour is visible or stuck on the bottom.  Just remember that mixing shouldn't exceed about  20 strokes or so, but don't make those few strokes so weak that flour gets trapped on the sides or bottom (I speak from experience here).  Keep those strokes firm! 

9 oz. Flour*
3 TBL Sugar
2 1/2 TSP Baking Powder
1 TSP Baking Soda 
3/4 TSP Salt (Preferably Kosher) 
2 cups Buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 TBL butter, melted and slightly cooled

*There are approximately 4 1/4-4 1/2 ounces of flour in a cup.  If you use a measure cup spoon the flour into the measuring cup so that it does not pack down too much.  

Whisk all dry ingredients together.  Whisk buttermilk and eggs together.  Without over-mixing, whisk dry ingredients with combined buttermilk and eggs.  Just before it is completely mixed, add slightly cooled, melted butter.  Whisk until completely combined.  Let rest while the skillet is heating.  

Heat a skillet on medium high heat (or if you are fancy heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees).  Heat until water instantly dances into oblivion and spoon roughly 1/4 cup scoops of rested batter.  Cook until the edges bubble and firm and flip for approximately 2 minutes.  

You may not be fancy or organic but if anything else, splurge on a 100% maple syrup.  Your pancakes will thank you.  

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