Some food, some drink.
No Crazy Cake Batters and No Ridiculous Toppings, Just Good From-Scratch Pancakes.
I gotta address this up front: A good stack of pancakes shouldn't be about what's loaded on top or mixed in to the batter as much as it should be about the pancake itself. Any joker with a bag of chocolate chips and a jar of sprinkles can make a box mix palatable; so since when did breakfast (and usually dinner at our house) become an excuse to eat dessert? Pancakes from scratch are a simple luxury that every family should be able to enjoy, and lately the recipe that I've been whisking up at our house is a honey and whole wheat variant of the buttermilk silver dollar recipe that fueled my family growing up for many a Sunday. Give these a go and see if the box mix doesn't become a distant memory.
We have moving pictures! For all you in the "I'd rather watch it" camp, you can check out the video companion episode for this recipe!
As it happens when you seem to always talk food with the people you meet, there comes a time when the topic of "pancakes" comes up. This discussion invariably ends with the person I'm talking to saying something how just about every flapjack they've ever made at home comes courtesy of a box mix.
It's at this point that you might as well be speaking to this white boy in Chinese.
You see, I grew up in a household where pancakes were always, always made from scratch; and I simply don't understand how anyone can get any breakfast food satisfaction from a box. With the partially hydrogenated fat suspended in perpetuity betwixt the starch granules, it's doubtful that the mix ever had any chance at tasting fresh; and anyhow, the resultant hotcakes always seem either to fall apart at the first sign of syrup, or have the texture of something you'd expect to see while Mrs. Douglas delivers the punchline on Green Acres. Every variant on a pancake I've ever made can be traced back to a recipe that my mother clipped off the back of a bag of Gold Medal Flower many moons ago. I've hunted around on their website for the purposes of proper citation, and I simply can't find it. This blows my mind because the unfettered recipe is so damn perfect as far as a basic pancake goes that I simply can't understand why they wouldn't wanna showcase it. Credit to the source aside, I've made enough minor changes that I'm taking ownership of it; and it's starting with this honey and whole wheat variant.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
In a two-quart mixing bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole white wheat flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
Melt the butter and add to a one quart mixing bowl. While the butter's still warm, whisk in the honey, and then the two eggs. Once integrated, whisk in the salt, then slowly pour in the buttermilk and the first 4 oz of [regular] milk, all the while continuing to whisk until integrated and the surface begins to get a little foamy.
Preheat a nonstick electric griddle to 375F. When temperature is achieved, spritz with non-stick spray then immediately (and carefully) wipe the griddle's surface with a clean paper towel.
When it's time to cook, slowly pour the contents of the wet into the larger bowl containing the dry ingredients. Whisk until integrated (but don't sweat it if there are a few tiny lumps).
Let the batter rest for a minute or two.
Add the reserve milk by the tablespoon to the mix until the desired consistency is reached. As the batter sits and starch molecules hydrate, you may have to add a little more milk to loosen things up. Spoon enough batter onto the griddle to create a five-inch disc (about a scant quarter cup). This batter usually isn't real runny, so you may have to shape it a bit as you lay it out on the griddle. Cook on the first side for two minutes or until bubbles in the center of the pancake begin to pop. Flip with a plastic turner and cook for another two minutes or until the center is set. Serve immediately or stockpile in a warm oven so everyone can eat at once.
- If there's one thing that I've learned about pancake batter it's that margin between dry and tough hotcakes is precariously slim; and it's all about the liquid. To confound things, a batch of pancakes almost never uses the exact same volume of liquid twice (even if you do measure the dry ingredients by weight). If you get absolutely nothing else out of my ramblings this time, then know that you will always get a better pancake if you hold some of the liquid back. In this case, just integrate that buttermilk and the majority of the milk, and let that mess hydrate for a minute or two. While the leaveners start to kick in, you'll magically see it all get thicker than you can pour out onto the griddle. When it's time to cook, stir in the reserve milk by the tablespoon until the batter loosens enough to ladle onto the griddle. It'll still be thick, but fliud; and I'd like to tell you what that consistency is like, but the only thing that comes to mind is "pancake batter."
- Usually, I will sing the praises of cast iron, but if you want an even brown on your griddle cakes with easy access for flippage, a nonstick electric griddle is a must. It's a bit of a one-trick pony I know, but the consistent use and reliable results offset the cabinet space deficit.
- You ever notice how your first batch of 'cakes on the griddle never seem to have an evenly brown surface? It's likely because you're using too much grease. A quick spritz of cooking spray promptly (and carefully) wiped up with a paper towel not only keeps a griddle seasoned, but also means that your first batch of pancakes will look as good as your last.
- I usually cook a pancake on a 400F griddle, but given that the butter, honey and whole wheat all readily brown up, 375F works better here I think.
- I've tried doing these with 100% whole wheat flour; and even using white wheat, I think they get a bit tough. I personally feel that this 50/50 blend of all-purpose flour and whole white wheat is about the best you can hope for, without sacrificing texture.
My family takes from-scratch pancakes for granted, and I guess my point for posting this in the first place is that I'm hoping that your family will begin to as well if they don't already. If you do a tally, there are maybe a handful of extra ingredients that you need to keep in your cabinet for successful pancakes, so I really don't see what the big deal is about dirtying up a couple of extra spoons.
Y'know, most pancakes absolutely require a topping of some sort. I would defy you to try a bite of these "bare-nekkid" right off the griddle and see what you think. Rich, buttery, slightly nutty and sweet. There's no iron-clad rule that says that a hotcake has to simply be the vehicle for flavor, and this particular recipe reaffirms that. In our house "pancake night" easily happens as often as "taco night," and if you're looking for an excuse to get the whole family back to the table for a simple homemade meal, then this is the recipe to try.