Ten Top Tips for Perfect Pancakes

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Rock Recipes best Pancakes!

A fan on our Facebook Page said she never has success with homemade pancakes so I decided to write this article with my best tips for perfect pancakes. It's the way I've taught my kids to make them and they have been doing so perfectly since they were 8 or 9 years old. Olivia and Noah are the real pancake experts in our house now with chocolate chip pancakes often on their weekend brunch agendas.

Here are our essential tips to make perfect pancakes.

1. Start with a good recipe. I've found that too many recipes produce a batter that is either too thick or too thin. Pancake batter should be on the the thicker side but should still flow pretty well. This helps make a fluffier pancake. A closer  balance between the dry and wet ingredients works best in my experience. Recipes with much more dry ingredients than wet or wet than dry I often find problematic. Too much liquid means rubbery pancakes; too much dry means hard to cook pancakes. I think my version of Basic Buttermilk Pancakes gets it just right.

2. Use buttermilk in your recipe even if it calls for regular milk. The higher acid content in the milk reacts with the baking powder causing a quick lift to the batter, which means lighter, fluffier pancakes. If you don't have access to buttermilk make an easy substitution is to add a tablespoon of lemon juice for each cup of milk in the recipe.

3. To avoid bland pancakes add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to any pancake recipe. Vanilla is to baking what salt is to cooking; I call it a seasoning for baking and that goes for pancakes too. It improves both flavor and aroma and that scent will bring the family to the table even faster.

4. Pay close attention to the amount of baking powder in your recipe. While my general rule of thumb for cakes is 1 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour, pancake batters generally benefit from more leavening agent. About 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour is best. If your recipe calls for both baking powder and baking soda, the soda should be adjusted proportionally as well. Be careful about using too much baking soda, it can leave an unpleasant aftertaste if overused.

5. Do not use a lot of fat or oil to cook your pancakes. Light batters, like those for pancakes, absorb oil far too easily and you can quickly end up with greasy pancakes that have soaked up too much. I generally don't add any more than a teaspoonful to a well seasoned skillet if that's what I'm using, and then brush it around the bottom of the pan using a silicone pastry brush. If using a non stick electric griddle, or other non stick pan, its best to use only very little and wipe off the excess with a few paper towels folded into multiple layers.

6. Avoid high heat. Pancakes that are cooked at too high a temperature will brown too quickly while being gooey on the inside. On the stove top, when using a well seasoned skillet, between medium low and medium on my burner dial is the sweet spot. Start there and tweak it to find the sweet spot on your stove by cooking one pancake at a time until you find the perfect setting; then be sure to write the pan you used and the burner setting right on the recipe page for next time. An electric flat griddle is ideal for pancakes; if you have one use it and try to find the same sweet spot on the dial. On mine it's between 375 and 400 degrees.

7. Avoid recipes that use too much sugar in the batter. Since we serve pancakes with sweet syrup anyway, the pancakes themselves need not be very sweet at all. My basic buttermilk batter uses only a few tablespoons of sugar in the entire batch. Sugar caramelizes quickly and the more that's in the batter, the more quickly it will brown and often over brown before the center is properly cooked.

8. Wait for those bubbles. A pancake most often will take more time to cook on the first side than when flipped onto the second side. The best way to ensure a fully cooked pancake is to wait for bubbles to break the surface before flipping. Just take an occasional peek on the bottom to make sure they are not over browning.

9. Do not over mix the batter and never re-mix it after the initial mixing; this will deflate the batter and make dense pancakes. I don't ever use an electric mixer to make pancake batter. About 30 seconds of rapid hand whisking once everything is in the bowl is all it takes. Small lumps are not even a problem. Make the batter in two or more batches if you are serving many people. Smaller batches of batter are better and are less likely to tempt you to mix them again.

10. Once you have that minimal mixing done. Let the batter rest for 5- 10 minutes before using it. This gives the batter a chance to relax and let the baking powder do its work. The batter will be lighter and fluffier and so will your pancakes.

HAPPY PANCAKE DAY!!
Ten Top Tips for Perfect Pancakes

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