Thursday, January 20, 2011

Basic Pancakes



Since weekday mornings are usually very hectic for everybody, my family gets by on just a cup of cereal, maybe some fruit and fruit-flavored yogurt. But for weekends we try to have a long and rich breakfast whenever we can. And pancakes and waffles are sometimes part of the weekend breakfast, too. That way they are more a treat than a boring and unhealthy everyday breakfast item.

Here's a basic pancake recipe that worked for me to achieve tasty and fluffy pancakes which got approval from my family, too.
On a day when I was quite frustrated looking for a solid pancake recipe and tips that really would work, I came across this recipe among the millions(!) of pancake recipes online; check out the whole article and the recipes within this link: Nix the pancake mix for breakfast perfection; it really has all the information you need to make proper pancakes; you can build your own recipe from there, too.
Who knew that proper pancakes are not only about the recipe, but also all about the tools and tips you need to use..:)


Ingredients: (Makes 8 4"-pancakes)

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (if using buttermilk or yogurt)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk or buttermilk or plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or melted margarine or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Topping options: Butter, maple syrup, honey, jam, chocolate chips, whipped cream, berries or other fresh fruits etc.

Directions:

  • In a bowl, crack the eggs and beat them until foamy. Whisk in milk or buttermilk/yogurt, vanilla and melted butter/vegetable oil.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda (if using buttermilk/yogurt). Make a well in the middle.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir just until the wet mixture moistens the dry mixture (and there's no dry mixture visible anymore); do not mix any further; the mixture will have lumps and this is normal. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, heat the griddle or the pan. If using electric griddle, set it for 375 F. If using a griddle or pan on the stove top, heat until water flicked on surface bounces, but does not evaporate immediately.
  • Brush griddle or pan with the kind of vegetable oil that has a high burning point, like canola oil (By the way, if you have a good non-stick griddle or pan, you can skip this step).
  • Using 1/4 cup measure for small pancakes (about 4" wide), 1/3 cup measure for larger pancakes, scoop batter from the bowl; and from about 3" above griddle, pour batter in solid stream onto griddle (this will be easy to do if you used milk for your batter). If batter is a little thick, spread it out so that cake is about 1/4' thick/tall (this will be the case if you used buttermilk or yogurt).
  • Watch the cake closely; once the edges are dry and a few dry-edged bubbles have formed on top, check the cake's underside. It should be roughly the color of honey and the color should be even. In that case, flip cake and cook the other side until golden brown.
  • Serve it immediately with above suggested toppings.


Additional Points:

  • You can also add certain ingredients like chocolate chips or blueberries into the batter before cooking the pancakes (or onto the pancakes once they are on the griddle). Use 1/2 cup add-ins for above recipe.
  • If you aim for a fluffy pancake, definitely use buttermilk or yogurt, instead of milk (I do not keep buttermilk as a staple in my fridge, but always have plain yogurt in hand, so I prefer using yogurt; and you would be surprised to see how well it works); and don't skip the step of letting the batter sit for a few minutes. This combination of buttermilk/yogurt with baking powder and baking soda gives you a good fluffiness. If you prefer thinner pancakes, use milk instead.
  • If you make pancakes often and like them really fluffy, I would definitely recommend owning an electric griddle, since the even heat distribution you can get from an electric griddle does justice to this recipe and gives you restaurant-quality pancakes.
  • If you use a stove-top griddle or a pan, above mentioned article gives you a great tip on how to tell when the pan is ready for pancakes: Flick a few droplets of water onto the griddle. If they bounce around, you’re at a good temperature. If it evaporates immediately, it’s too hot, and if it sits there it’s too cold.
  • A cake is beginning to cook when the edges dry, and should be ready to flip once you see dry-edged bubbles holding shape on top. Once they appear, check the underside, and if it’s golden brown, it’s time to flip (a move which you should do only once). If bubbles are dry-edged, but the underside is pale, your griddle is too cool; if the underside is very dark, the griddle is too hot.
  • The best pancake is a fresh pancake, directly from the griddle to the table, so always try to serve them fresh. If you really have to wait, put the pancakes on a baking sheet as a single layer and keep them in 200 F oven until serving time.
  • If you have leftover batter, you can definitely store it in the fridge for another day (For example, you can prepare a big batch of batter on a Saturday morning and use it also on Sunday morning). Just make sure to bring batter back to room temperature before cooking pancakes, otherwise when the pancakes are golden brown on the outside, the inside will still be runny and not cooked through.

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