Sunday, September 23, 2012

Buttermilk Pancakes

I've been making pancakes for years.  I regularly made them in Tanzania (with whatever ingredients I could get my hands on), and have tried various recipes over the years.  For many years now I've been using the Joy of Cooking for a standard buttermilk pancake recipe.  But they weren't always as fluffy as I wanted them, and I always had trouble getting consistent proportions.  Recently, I pulled out the Cook's Illustrated recipe, but that uses sour cream instead of buttermilk -- and I'm morally opposed to sour cream.  However, there were some good tips on ratios of baking powder to baking soda, good weight and volume details, and other tips.  I then combined these two recipes and... Eureka!  Perfect, reliable buttermilk pancakes.  We usually cook these on a griddle on the grill outside on a beautiful Sunday morning.  (And in California, this can be all year long.  Depending on your location, YMMV.) I strongly recommend weighing the flour -- the consistency of the pancakes depends on getting this right, and it's hard to get a consistent amount by measuring 2 cups of flour by volume.

Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 12 pancakes


2 cups (9.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
3 Tbs unsalted butter (melted)

Preheat griddle to 350 F or until water droplets "dance".  Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs together.  Then whisk buttermilk, and finally whisk in butter.  Pour liquid mixture onto flour mixture, and whisk until just incorporated.  As Alton Brown says "count to ten and then just step away from the bowl."

To check if the grill is ready, drop a few droplets of water on.  If they "dance" but don't boil away immediately, the griddle is the right temperature.  (Alternatively, you can use one of those awesome laser infrared thermometer doohickies.)  Brush a small amount of butter on griddle using a paper towel to wipe up excess.  Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour on 6 pancakes.  Wait until bubbles start to form on top, or bottoms are nice and golden brown.  Flip pancakes until browned on the other side.  Repeat with the second set of 6 pancakes.

Serve with butter and real maple syrup.