I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say that they can't make pancakes. I look at them quizzically, and then begin my spiel about how it's so easy! Later, I'd think about how funny it was to talk to someone else who thought they couldn't make pancakes. Then, I'd feel happy that I was able to pass on some pancake-wisdom that they could instill to potentially save their Sunday mornings and impress their children. I don't know, I have an active imagination.
Anyway, last night, I started thinking of a conversation that I had the other day at lunch. My friend insisted that she couldn't make pancakes. She said that they just never come out right. As the same quizzical look took over my face, it hit me: I used to think this, too! Years ago, I remember struggling with pancakes. I honestly thought that the first round of pancakes were "throw-aways," and I'd actually call them that! I glazed over and thought about the countless, pasty white, doughy pancakes I'd scrape off of the griddle and throw away. I guess after years of making throw-away-free pancakes, I just forgot about The Struggle.
Now, I make pancakes every weekend for my family. Sometimes they ask for thick and fluffy, and sometimes they're in the mood for thin and light. This time they asked for thin pancakes, but I'll give you some tips for either, before getting to the recipe below.
Avoid "throw-aways" by getting your pan or griddle HOT. Sounds like common sense, right? You'd be surprised. Just warming up your pan or griddle isn't enough. I usually set mine to high/medium heat and keep it there the entire time I'm getting my mix together. Lower to medium heat only just before you're ready to cook.
For fluffy pancakes, your mix should be the consistency of cake batter, and then let sit for a few minutes. This gives your batter time to rise. Don't over mix. Some lumps and bumps are ok!
For thinner pancakes, add about a 1/4 cup of water. Continue to add a tablespoon of water until you get a consistency that's similar to a creamy soup.
Butter, spray or oil your griddle before adding your batter. You only need to add more between adding new pancake batter. You don't have to try to finagle butter under a pancake between flips. Let's not get crazy.
Once you're ready to commit to the process by actually getting your batter onto the pan, LEAVE IT. Don't lift up edges to check on it. Don't move it around the pan to get different heat spots. Don't think you have to flip it more than once. Leave it. The only time you have to flip your pancake is when it's covered in bubbles. Simply, bubbles tell you that the heat has made it from the bottom to the top, cooking the batter as it rises.
If you want to add something special, like chocolate chips, do it during the bubble stage. This not only keeps extra stuff from sticking to your griddle, but it allows you control over even distribution. No one wants the lame pancake that only wound up with a few chocolate chips.
Flip once. When your pancakes are covered in bubbles and you're ready to flip. And then leave it. Again, you don't have to monitor the bottom to see if the heat is still working. It is.
After a minute or so, if you want to check on whether your pancake is ready to leave the griddle, take your spatula and softly push on the center of your pancake. If the pancake rises, it's done. If the pancake stays down, it's still doughy and needs more time.
**All of this applies to store-bought pancake mix, too.
Onto the good stuff!
Yes, You Can Make Pancakes
Makes about 10 pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
chocolate chips (optional)
(See the Tips above before getting started.)
Heat your pan or griddle now on medium heat.
Add all ingredients to a bowl, and mix until combined. Some lumps and bumps are fine. Just don't over mix! (We wanted thinner pancakes today, so we added some water to thin the batter.)
Butter or oil your griddle. Wait for your pancake batter to be covered in bubbles before flipping.
At this point, if you're going to add chocolate chips, do it now.
Flip your pancake and let cook for about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and dig in!
Be patient with your pancakes, and your weekends will be filled with fluffy, syrupy goodness for years to come.