Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buttermilk Pancakes

This recipe delivers pancakes on the thick side, which is how I like them. The most important thing to remember is not to overmix the batter. As my daughter, Abigail, demonstrated in a science fair project last year, overmixing the batter will drive off the aeration created by the baking soda and baking powder, leading to flat and rubbery flapjacks. Mix the batter only enough to wet the flour and break up any clumps—but no more!

(serves two parents and two hungry children)

2 c flour
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¾ c milk
1 c buttermilk (see tip below)
2 eggs
4 Tbs unsalted butter

1. Preheat a griddle until hot. (Drops of water should sizzle and evaporate instantly.)

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

3. In another bowl, combine the milk and buttermilk and microwave briefly until lukewarm. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork and add them to the buttermilk mixture. Melt the butter and add it to the buttermilk mixture. (If you add melted butter to cold milk or buttermilk, it will congeal.)

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently with a spatula or wooden spoon to combine. Make sure that all of the flour is wetted and break up any large pockets but leave the batter thick and a little lumpy.

5. Spoon the batter onto the griddle. Cook the pancakes until bubbles begin to appear, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until done.

• I you don't have buttermilk, use plain yogurt. Substitute one cup of yogurt and an additional half-cup of milk for the cup of buttermilk. (The additional milk compensates for the thickness of the yogurt.)

• Many factors, including the type of flour you use and the humidity in your kitchen, will affect the consistency of the batter you produce, even if you measure carefully. As you make this recipe again and again, however, you’ll become familiar with a consistency that works for you. Keep in mind that too thin a batter will yield crepes, while too thick a batter will make it difficult to cook the inside of the pancakes before the outside turns black. To judge whether the consistency of my batter is right, I scoop up some batter in the cupped silicon spatula that I use to mix the batter and transfer it to the griddle. If the batter drools quickly off the spatula, it’s too thin (and I add a little flour). If the batter holds in a clump on the spatula, it’s too thick (and I add a little milk). Just right is a gravity-induced plop-plop-plop back into the bowl.

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