How to Make the Best Pancakes From Scratch
Do you crave pancakes that are golden brown on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, with a touch of crispness around the edges? (What a question.) Well, here's how to make your pancake dreams a breakfast reality in your very own kitchen.
Recipe: Todd's Famous Blueberry Pancakes
Top Tips for Better Pancakes
Start with Better Batter
- Have all ingredients at room temperature.
- Whisk dry ingredients together in one bowl.
- Next, whisk wet ingredients together in another bowl.
- Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into the dry. Stir gently with a spoon or spatula to combine until ingredients are just moistened. Don't overmix. Why? The gluten in the flour starts to develop as soon as liquid touches it, and the more you mix, the tougher the gluten becomes. Tough gluten makes for tough pancakes. If your batter has lumps, that's fine; they'll cook out on the griddle. Trust.
Bake a Better Pancake
- Use a heavy nonstick griddle or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet for even heat distribution.
- Heat griddle or pan over medium heat until a drop of water skitters across the surface.
- Lightly grease the pan with oil or clarified butter. (Regular butter will burn.)
- Use a ladle, measuring cup, or squeeze bottle to portion out the batter. Make a small test pancake first to check the heat of your pan; adjust the temperature up or down as needed. If your pancake is scorched on the outside and raw on the inside, turn down the heat.
- When you're satisfied that you've reached the perfect pan temperature, form as many pools of batter as your pan will comfortably hold, leaving a little room between pancakes for comfortable flipping.
- A pancake is ready to be turned over when it's dry around the edges and bubbles have formed over the top. Yes, you can peek to see if the bottom is golden brown before you flip it. Note that the second side will cook more quickly than the first.
- While you're waiting for the second side to cook, resist the impulse to press down the pancake with your spatula. (Where did that come from, anyway?) Pressing will not make it cook any faster, and you'll undo all the effort you've made to achieve fluffy, light, perfect pancakes in the first place.
Watch it all come together in this recipe for Fluffy Pancakes.
The Best Way to Add the Extras
What happens when you try to add berries, bacon, and other tidbits to your batter? Sadly, they often sink to the bottom of the batter bowl. To ensure even and equitable distribution on every pancake, try adding the extras after you ladle the batter onto the griddle. Let Chef John demonstrate this genius technique with one of the worst offenders, blueberry pancakes:
How to Keep Pancakes Warm
Pancakes are best eaten fresh from the griddle so you can enjoy their crispy, fluffy goodness. This may mean serving them a few at a time. If you absolutely must keep the pancakes waiting, arrange them in a single layer on an oiled cooling rack and place them, uncovered, in a warm oven for no more than 20 minutes. Never stack or cover them—the steam makes them soggy.
3 Tricks for Ultra-High-Rise Pancakes
- Give your pancakes the airy texture of soufflés and meringues by borrowing the technique that gives those desserts their cloud-like consistency: beaten egg whites. Using the number of eggs called for in your pancake recipe, separate the yolks from the whites. Mix the egg yolks with the rest of the wet ingredients, following recipe instructions. Combine with the dry ingredients to make the batter. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold the beaten whites into the batter and cook the pancakes immediately.
- Replace some or all of the liquid in your recipe with a carbonated beverage (plain or flavored seltzer water, beer, cider, ginger ale) to make your pancakes very light and tender. Add the carbonation just before you're ready to pour the pancake batter on the griddle.
- This next trick works with any batter that includes double-acting baking powder: Mix the batter and let it rest in the refrigerator for several minutes, or even overnight. This allows the gluten to relax so the pancakes will be tender, and lets the baking powder form bubbles in the batter. After the batter rests, do not stir it or the bubbles will deflate.
Fun with Pancakes
Use a squeeze bottle to draw batter into designs, initials and other fun shapes right on the griddle or pan.
Make a smiley face or write a message.
Pour batter into nonstick pancake molds or oiled metal cookie cutters for extra-fancy forms.
Use pancakes and toppings to build a funny face. This adorable monkey is made with one big pancake, one medium pancake, and four small pancakes. Add banana slices for the ears; nut butter, coconut, and chocolate chips for eyes. An almond and raisins form the nose and mouth.
Throw a choose-your-own-adventure pancake party. Borrow a big electric griddle that can handle several pancakes at a time.Set out bowls of berries, cooked bacon bits, and other tasty bits, then let everyone customize. Butter and syrup are classic toppings, but try jam, honey, nut butter, lemon juice, powdered sugar, whipped cream, or fresh fruit. Better yet, set up a pancake bar and let everyone build their own.
Find dozens of creative ways to change up your stack o' flapjacks with sweet and savory pancake add-ins.
Pancakes for Every Lifestyle
Whether you're eating gluten-free, paleo, or just want to take pancakes in a healthier direction, we've got the pancake recipe you're looking for.
- Delicious Gluten-Free Pancakes (pictured above) are made with rice flour, tapioca flour, and, well, check out the recipe to get all the ingredients. Then, watch the video for Delicious Gluten-Free Pancakes.
- Vegan Pancakes don't contain a lick of dairy, and they still earn top ratings. Watch the Vegan Pancakes video to see how to make them.
- You can eat like a caveman and still have paleo pancakes, including these 2-Ingredient Wheat-Free Banana Pancakes.
Think Outside the Stack
There's a whole world of pancake variations to explore. Stamp your pancake passport with these beauties:
- Baked pancakes, including Dutch babies (pictured above)—the biggest, fluffiest, most mind-blowing pancake that ever dominated brunch-dom.
- Latkes and potato pancakes made with grated, mashed, or instant potatoes.
- Thin, delicate French crepes that are a whole lot easier to make than you'd think.
In Other Pancake News
- The PancakeBot is coming to print out your pancakes. Resistance is futile.
- Want pancakes in a hurry? Make your own instant pancake mix (with no mystery ingredients). Just add the wet ingredients and you've got pancakes any time, day or night.
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