Do you dream about waking up to the perfect stack of fluffy pancakes? Pancakes that are golden and crisp on the outside and fluffy and light on the inside. That's true comfort food! I like my pancakes super fluffy, lightly sweetened and with a hint of vanilla flavor. The addition of fresh fruit and pure maple syrup is always necessary in my opinion and I admit, I do like to splurge a little more on real deal maple syrup.
The idea of making homemade pancakes can be a little intimidating, I mean, a pre-mixed box of pancake ingredients is definitely convenient at times, but there's nothing like homemade. Once you have some general tips and secrets on making the perfect batch of homemade pancakes, you might never go back to the box pancake mix. Check out these helpful tips for making the best pancakes from scratch.
1. It all starts with the batter.
Basic pancakes from scratch consist of dry ingredients like flour, baking powder/baking soda, sugar, and salt; and room temperature wet ingredients like eggs, vanilla extract, melted butter/vegetable oil and some dairy (I like to use buttermilk). Ingredients like sugar and vanilla extract might sound a little unusual to add into the batter, but they do make a difference. The sugar will obviously sweeten the batter, but it will also help crisp the edges. Vanilla extract adds that hint of floral and sweet notes that you definitely want to taste in your delicious pancakes.
One of my favorite ingredients that I prefer using in most of my baking is buttermilk. Since it's pretty acidic because buttermilk is made with milk and vinegar/lemon juice, it helps tenderize and give a tangy flavor to any batter.
You can easily make it at home if you do not have it on hand. I like to follow this method: for every cup of milk, mix in one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Combine and let it sit in a measuring cup or bowl for a few minutes. You'll notice it curdle a bit, but there's no need to worry.
Try swapping out milk for buttermilk with your next batch of pancake batter, you'll definitely taste a difference.
2. Don't over-mix!
Once you're ready to combine your dry and wet ingredients in a medium bowl, make a well with the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients in. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir very gently. Over-mixing pancake batter causes the gluten in the flour to develop once the liquid touches it and the more you mix, the tougher the gluten becomes. That means you'll have tough, rubbery pancakes instead of light and airy.
And don't be concerned if you see lumps in the batter because it's actually a good thing. The lumps show that you didn't over-mix. They'll also have time to cook out once the batter hits the pan on medium heat and has a few minutes to cook.
3. Use a sturdy pan.
You can take a guess on the ideal pan to use for homemade pancakes! You can't go wrong with your trusty, seasoned cast iron skillet. It conducts heat well and evenly cooks each pancake through.
It's also not a bad idea to invest in a nonstick griddle. Like a cast iron skillet, a griddle is also great for even heat distribution and allows you to cook up a ton of pancakes at once. I recommend one like this. It fits right over your stove top burners.
4. The ideal tools and temperatures for pancakes are simple.
For perfect, consistent pancakes there are a few tools around the kitchen you can use: a ladle, measuring cup or ice cream scooper. You'll get even homemade pancakes every time. Another great tool to use is a squeeze bottle. Using a squeeze bottle will allow you to be creative and easily draw out fun shapes, animals, designs, etc. Your kids will thank you! This is also great to create Valentine hearts on February 14.
The ideal heat to cook your pancakes is over a medium-low heat. If the pan is too hot, the outside of the pancakes will burn before the inside cooks. If the pan is too low, you won't get that crisp edge around the pancakes. Some directions will say medium-high heat, but medium-low is preferred to make the best pancake recipe.
Try out out this classic trick to help you tell of your pan is ready. My mom always does this when she makes us pancakes and when I was younger, I thought it was crazy (sorry Mom!). But, it actually works and now I use this trick too. Splatter a few drops of water on to the pan with your fingers and if the bubbles of water start to sizzle or 'dance' it's time for pancakes!
You can also test out the heat of the pan by dropping on a little pancake batter. You will know your pan is too hot if the batter begins to smoke. Figuring out the right temperature requires some patience, but it's worth it.
5. When is it time to flip?
Once you have you batter scooped out onto a lightly greased pan, try not to flip them too early or too soon. Timing is everything. If you leave them cooking on one side for too long, it'll burn. If you flip them too soon, you'll have a mess of raw pancake batter everywhere.
Here is the best clue: It's time to flip the pancakes when you notice bubbles starting to form and pop. That means the bottoms are light golden brown and the sides have had some time to cook. You can always take a quick peak at this point and lift up the edge of the pancake with your spatula.
Normally, each side should take about 2-3 minutes to cook for perfect pancakes. And resist the urge to press down each pancake with the spatula. Doing so just takes away from the fluffy, light pancakes you were trying to create in the first place!
6. Don't forget the extras.
Personally, I love adding fresh blueberries to my pancakes. Other common ingredients are chocolate chips, banana & apple slices, coconut flakes, bacon bits, and nuts. Sometimes these delicious extra pieces of flavor just sink to the bottom bowl, but to avoid this problem, add the extras on top of each pancake after you ladle it onto the pan. This technique will ensure even distribution of those tasty extras!
7. Learn how to keep your pancakes warm.
Pancakes are best eaten hot from the griddle, but if you're making a bunch for a hungry crowd, it's easy for them to cool off and loose their crisp, fluffy texture.
To keep them from turning soggy, arrange them in a single layer on a pan and place them in a warm oven for no longer than 20 minutes. Keep them uncovered and do not stack them because that will create steam, which makes them soggy and limp.
Are you craving pancakes yet? I know I am! Here are 3 homemade pancake recipes that are worth trying.
1. Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes
This classic buttermilk pancake recipe will be on your list of foods to make this weekend and a great recipe to store in your recipe box. They're light and fluffy and ready to feed your hungry family in minutes. This is an easy recipe to throw in your favorite extras like blueberries or apples.
Double this recipe if you're feeding a large crowd, and you'll be happy you did! Here's the recipe.
2. Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
If you're looking to avoid white flour and add in more grains to your breakfast, you'll have to try out these pancakes made from scratch. They're filled with some ingredients like oats, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
These pancakes are just as fluffy as regular buttermilk pancakes and taste delicious topped with fresh fruit. This might be your go-to healthy pancake recipe! Here's the recipe.
3. Strawberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
If you whip up a batch of these gorgeous pancakes, your family might ask for them every single morning! They are light and airy and the lemon and strawberries are a match made in heaven.
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