Pancakes were always a favorite breakfast treat in my house; they were a nice switch from the usual eggs or cereal. But for many years, decades even, I didn't know what a from-scratch pancake tasted like. My parents' recipe was the one on the side of the Bisquick box, which turned out leaden cakes that no amount of Mrs. Butterworth's could moisten. We called them "syrup suckers."
Even after I got married, I still made my pancakes with Bisquick, only this time it was the reduced-fat version, thinned out with yogurt or canned pumpkin to make less flannel-y cakes. My hubby said his mother used to make pancakes from scratch and that always made me feel just a wee bit guilty that I didn't do that, too.
The day before our seventh anniversary we were going to my Dad's to celebrate his birthday. I made a lemon bundt cake for the occasion, using a recipe that required buttermilk. DH bought a quart, but I only needed a single cup. So as an anniversary treat, the next morning I made buttermilk pancakes. From scratch. They were revelatory. So light and airy, yet somehow crispy around the edges! Bisquick didn't do that, no matter how many additional ingredients I added.
We still had some buttermilk left over this weekend, but only a scant 3/4 cup. I dumped in a cup of vanilla lowfat yogurt to compensate, and the resulting pancakes were maybe not as light as the previous week's, but they were still far better than the kind from a box. I think I might never go back.
Buttermilk Pancakes, adapted from the Joy of Cooking
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tblsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 tblsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Do not combine wet and dry until you are ready to get cooking (so sayeth anal-retentive cooking geek Alton Brown). At that point, pour wet over dry and stir until just combined. Don't worry about lumps, as they will work themselves out in the cooking (according to Alton). Add any additional dry ingredients (berries, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, etc.) and stir briefly.
Grease and heat a griddle pan or large sautée pan until hot. Add batter to create whatever size pancakes you'd like. Cook on first side until you see bubbles appear on the top surface. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. To keep warm while preparing all of the pancakes, stack finished cakes on a plate and tent with aluminum foil.
Serve with butter and real maple syrup, preferably grade B (because it actually has flavor). Enjoy!
Hubby is the designated pancake maker in our house. He uses Bisquick. They're...not bad, and I'm sticking to that story because otherwise, I'll stop getting work-free pancakes on the weekend.
But I have a half-quart of buttermilk left over from making buttermilk scones and muffins over the weekend. Maybe I need to show hubby how it's really done.
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