First of all, throw away those silly boxes of Bisquick and Mrs. Butterworth pancake mix. These things are not pancakes. They aren’t even close. They are to pancakes as a 60-watt lightbulb is to a mountain sunrise with birdsong. They are soulless pretenders. You can make better pancakes with hardly any additional effort.
Second, do not go to IHOP. Ever. Going to an IHOP for breakfast is even worse than using a pancake mix. It’s like spending a Saturday night downloading ASCII porn when your wife is waiting in the bedroom, reading Delta of Venus and wearing a maid’s uniform with bunny ears 1. Seriously, it’s that bad. IHOP use a pancake mix that is basically the same as the mixes you buy in the supermarket, and you don’t even get the satisfaction of having made something yourself.
You can’t get the taste of a real pancake in a box. You can’t even get it at most restaurants these days. Sadly, even some of the better restaurants now use batter-in-a-box for their Sunday brunch pancakes. Their pancakes certainly look nice, it’s true. Usually they are enormous, perfectly circular, erotically golden and gorgeously fluffy things languishing in the company of fresh green grapes and a couple of melon cubes. But looks are all these babies have going for them. These imposters taste like nothing at all, soak up syrup like sponges and settle like lead weights into your stomach. The fruit is there to disguise the pancakes’ worthlessness.
Why put your palate through this tawdry sideshow act, when real, honest pancakes taste so stupefyingly good and take about fifteen minutes to prepare? Instead, gather up the following items and prepare to be dazzled:
- WET INGREDIENTS
- 3 Tsp butter, melted
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 3 Tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
This will make enough pancakes for two or three people.
NOTE - If you want to substitute margarine for the butter, or low-fat milks for the whole milk, go ahead. But keep in mind that these substitutions will change the consistency and flavour of the pancakes. Low-fat milks will make the pancakes thinner. Likewise, switching the milk with buttermilk will make a wonderfully rich and fluffy pancake, but if you do this you should also add a little bit of baking soda. Lastly, some people like to add a dash of vanilla. I don’t.
To start with, melt your butter. You can either do this in a small sauce pot on very low heat or microwave it in a glass mixing cup.
While your butter is melting, mix the eggs and milk in a small mixing bowl. Don’t beat them up, just whisk until smoothly mixed. Now mix your melted butter in. Again, do not overbeat.
In a separate, larger bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ones, mixing as you pour. It is vital that you do not stir this for too long. Only stir until the ingredients are mixed. Excessive stirring will activate the gluten in the flour and make your pancakes tough, unpancakelike, and rather nasty. If there are a few small lumps in the mix when you finish stirring, don’t worry. They will disappear.
If you want to add fruit to the batter, pour it in now. Pancakes taste great with some sliced strawberries or blueberries floating in them. If you are adding fruit, I would suggest using a buttermilk batter so the pancakes are thick enough to hold it.
Now turn your stove on to medium heat. You can make pancakes on a griddle or in a skillet. I prefer a cast-iron griddle, for no particular reason, but there are many people who find the act of flipping a pancake in the skillet the most enjoyable part of the whole affair. (If you want to flip it in a skillet, try using a sliding circular motion, almost like tossing a ball underhand - and practice alone before you try it in front of the family).
Now wait. The batter wants to sit for a few minutes, and the griddle will take time to heat up. To test when the temperature is just right, flick a couple of drops of water onto the griddle. You want the cooking surface to be hot enough to make drops of water dance on it for a second or two before evaporating. If they just sit there laughing at you, turn the heat up. If they are instantly vaporized, turn it down a touch and wait a few minutes. This is a good time to get the coffee started.
When the surface is hot enough, spray it or rub it with butter. Only a tiny bit. The pancakes already have butter in them and will not usually stick to the surface unless you are severely burning them.
Finally, take a ladle and pour your first pancake. This brave volunteer is a test subject to see if the griddle is hot enough, and if anything needs to be added to the batter. Depending on how it runs, you may need to add a little milk or flour to the rest of the mix.
Watch this first pancake closely to gauge the time needed for each one. After a few minutes, little bubbles will begin to form on the top. You want to wait until the whole top has bubbled and the bubbles are starting to form permanent holes in the top of the pancake, instead of disappearing. At this precise moment, the bottom of your pancake is golden brown. This is the time to flip it. The other side has no such convenient indicators for readiness, so you will have to lift an edge every once in a while to look underneath the pancake. Usually it takes roughly the same time as the first side.
Do not flip the pancake more than once! Repeat flipping will only toughen the pancake. If you flipped it too early, too bad.
If all is well, start pouring more pancakes and call the rest of your family 2 for breakfast. By the time they have pried their eyes open and rolled out of bed, you should have a whole stack of pancakes ready for them to eat. Set out some butter and syrup, or some jam (strawberry jam is especially nice on pancakes), pour them some coffee, and enjoy.
One final note - please, please do not insult your wonderful pancakes by pouring syrup substitutes on them. Do them, and yourself, a huge favour and go buy some real maple syrup. After all, you made these things from scratch with only natural ingredients - why would you want to adulterate them at this point?
1 - Those who find themselves unmoved by this image may substitute a husband reading My Secret Garden, with or without bunny-eared French Maid costume.
2 - Optional.