I made these pancakes with flour, milk, eggs and butter but, no, I did not plant the wheat and mill the flour, I did not milk any cow, I did not gather eggs from hens in the backyard and I did not churn the butter.
I understand the convenience of pancake mixes. I do, really. I grew up with them, truth be told. The problem is that some pancake mixes are too sweet while others are too bland. And once you start adding sugar (or liquid to downplay the excessive sweetness), you mess up with the carefully measured proportion of the components in the mix.
So, I prefer to make pancakes from scratch. I understand as well that making pancakes from scratch may be problematic for people who don’t keep a supply of baking powder in their pantry. Only people who bake on a regular basis do that.
But, even if only out of curiosity, you can be bothered to make your own pancake mix, you will discover how much freedom you have to tweak it here and there until you get the formula that yields the best results. With your very own pancake mix formula, you’re halfway there. Now, you have to make the batter the right way, and cook it so that it rises and spreads correctly.
Never overmix pancake batter
Pancake is really a quickbread. It’s more closely related to muffins than cakes or cupcakes. That means the dry ingredients are stirred with the wet ingredients just to moisten them. Like muffin batter, pancake batter should essentially be lumpy rather than smooth. Using an electric mixer to make your pancake batter would be excessive. A wire whisk is ideal but even a sturdy fork will do.
Heat the pan before pouring in the batter
What happens when you pour the batter into a pan before you turn on the stove? The batter will spread. But, of course, right? Don’t think that it will turn out into something like a French crepe. It won’t. Crepe batter has more liquid. Pancake batter that has spread on a cold pan will just come out thin and dense.
So, heat the pan before pouring in the batter. It’s for the same reason that you preheat the oven before putting in a pan with cake batter in it. Heating the pan before pouring in the batter means the batter starts cooking as soon as it touches the hot pan. And that helps the batter rise quickly and become a fluffy pancake.
How many pancakes can be cooked at the same time?
That depends on the size of your pancakes and the surface of your pan. When I make mini pancakes (two tablespoons of batter), I cook as many as four in a 10-inch pan. But when making regular-sized pancakes (a quarter cup of batter), I prefer to cook them one by one. Why?
There should be a generous amount of space around the pancake to allow you to flip it comfortably. Remember that the batter spreads before it rises. If you cook too many pancakes at the same time and they are almost touching each other after the batter has spread, it will be difficult to insert a spatula under the half-cooked pancake to flip it over.
How do you tell if the pancake is ready to be flipped?
You watch for the appearance of bubbles. Ideally the center should have a few bubbles while the edges are almost covered with them. If you wait until the entire surface is covered with bubbles, the underside will be too brown.
If the temperature of the pan is right just, the pancake should be ready to be flipped in about 45 seconds to a minute. The opposite side needs less time to cook.
Pancakes from scratch
- Stir together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.
- In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg and milk.
- Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended.
- Fold in the melted butter.
- Place your pan on the stove set to MEDIUM heat. Wait for the pan to get hot.
- Pour a quarter cup of pancake batter into the hot pan.
- When the center has a few bubbles while the edges are almost covered with them (it takes 45 seconds, on the average), flip the pancake over and cook for another 20 seconds.
- Serve the pancakes immediately.