7.10.2011

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Buttermilk Pancakes

Like so many friends, I grew up eating Jiffy Mix pancakes. Every Sunday, my dad would get up early (which he did in the first place, anyway) and, as my brother and I were waking up, he'd have the batter mixed and ready to pour onto the griddle. For those unfamiliar, Jiffy Mix is an all-purpose baking mix in which all the dry ingredients are combined, leaving your only "work" as adding liquid and fat (eggs, oil, etc); it's really just another version of box mix cake. From my own personal experience, it seems most people, nowadays, use these types of ready-mixes for pancakes (just as they do for cake), rather than making the batter fully from scratch. I do have to say, my dad's pancakes were always satisfying!

I think, after getting used to eating my dad's pancakes so often, I became a bit picky about them. They're thin and tender, like the perfect marriage between a crepe and a pancake, and they're probably shorter, in diameter, than the full length of my hand. Restaurants, though, tend to serve thick, plate-sized masses that I wouldn't necessarily consider tender, despite appearing fluffy. They're the complete opposite of what I've always been used to, so I've only ordered them under the most desperate of circumstances! 

When I moved out of my parents' house, nearly two years ago, I had to get my dad's recipe so that Billy and I could carry on the weekend pancake tradition. One morning, though...what I thought was one very sad morning...we found ourselves with an empty box of Jiffy Mix. There was no way I was going to let us go without pancakes and I felt terrible making Billy go to the store, so I decided I'd bite the bullet and make them from scratch using a recipe I'd seen in Martha Stewart's Favorite Comfort Food. They at least looked beautiful and I trust Martha's expertise...so I was willing to try something different for one weekend!


Let me tell you, after making that first batch from scratch...I will never...never...make another pancake using any other recipe. I am now even less willing to order a plate of giant, tough, brown restaurant pancakes because, well...why settle for anything less? These pancakes are fluffy and so incredibly tender, they melt in your mouth. Billy and I usually end up with a few left over and, they're so delicious, I just roll them up, hours later, and eat them plain. Leftover pancakes are not generally tasty, especially the texture, but these sure are! I wish I had a plate right now...I'm sitting here smelling the hopefully delicious pulled pork in garlic-lime marinade that's been roasting in my oven for the past two hours and all I can think about is having a big plate of Martha's buttermilk pancakes. 

I know I'm overly against food in which any part is pre-made, but here it really does make a difference. I will admit that a box mix cake has the same texture as a homemade oil cake...but you cannot get these pancakes from a box! You can't get those beautiful little holes of tenderness out of a box...you need to add the flour, baking soda, powder, and sugar yourself. In all seriousness, measuring out a few dry ingredients is not hard work. This isn't the difference between throwing a frozen dinner in the microwave or putting together something from scratch. This is about measuring maybe four extra items into a bowl rather than measuring one pre-mixed item plus all the extras you have to add and mix by hand anyway! The extra "effort" is beyond...beyond well worth it. If I could just show up to the homes of everyone I know and make these to get the word out, I would, without a doubt!


Melt-in-Your-Mouth Buttermilk Pancakes by Martha Stewart (makes nine 6-inch pancakes)

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups buttermilk (I keep powdered buttermilk in the fridge, so I actually replace the liquid with regular cow's milk/soy milk and add the equivalent amount of powdered buttermilk to the dry ingredients)
  • 4 tbsp + 1/2 tsp unsalted butter, melted (I replace the 4 tbsp with canola oil simply because I don't want to clean another dish to melt the butter--the extra 1/2 tsp is to melt onto the griddle)
Directions:

Heat an electric griddle to 375 degrees or a heavy skillet until very hot. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl (add powdered buttermilk, as well, if using). Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tbsp butter/oil; whisk, only to combine--the batter should have small to medium lumps, which will create the lovely air pockets that yield tender, fluffy pancakes. Overmixing the batter until smooth will result in something unpleasantly tough.

Test your griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water onto it; if it bounces and spatters away, the griddle is hot enough. Brush the remaining 1/2 tsp melted butter onto the griddle (you can also melt it directly onto the griddle, as I do) and wipe the excess off with a paper towel. You only need a thin film to help the pancakes brown evenly; too much will fry them, which isn't the result we're looking for here.

Pour about 1/2 cup of batter onto the griddle. If you want some kind of filling such as chocolate chips or fruit, place them on top of the batter immediately after pouring it. If you add them to the batter before pouring, they won't distribute evenly and will thin out the batter. You can flip the pancakes when the surface is covered in bubbles, the center ones just beginning to break, and the edges of the pancakes are beginning to look dry; it should take about 2 1/2 minutes. Cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. 

To keep pancakes warm while cooking each batch, I like to fill a casserole dish with a lid, which I bring along to the table so that Billy and I can pull them out of the dish as we want them. You may also have your oven set to 175 degrees, keeping the pancakes on a heat-proof plate.

To serve, I recommend piling the pancakes as high as you can handle, slicing the layers into perfect little triangles and drizzling warm syrup over the top and down the sides :) My personal favorite is to eat one triangle at a time, folded in half on my fork, with a single bite of bittersweet chocolate and a thin layer of pancake syrup. 

Enjoy!!

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