By Claire Tansey
Life isn’t complete without pancakes.
Nothing tastes like the weekend more than pancakes, but they’re also an easy way to make any weekday morning special. They’re a Canadian classic, and showcase some of our very best ingredients, from our spectacular flour, to dairy, eggs, and flax or hemp hearts.
Like many kids, I started cooking by making pancakes. My mother’s Joy of Cooking opens naturally to “Sour Milk Pancakes” (bad name, great pancakes) because the page is so heavily splashed with pancake batter, but by the time I was 12 I knew the recipe by heart.
I also knew my mom’s admonition by heart: “Just a few swift strokes!” she’d holler as I was mixing the batter. The pancakes were impossibly fluffy and delicious, and we could never get enough.
Years—and thousands of pancakes—later, I’ve figured out a few more secrets to perfect pancakes.
First of all, use real buttermilk, the kind you buy in a carton from the dairy aisle. You can mimic buttermilk by adding vinegar or lemon juice to regular milk, but it doesn’t have the thickness or distinct tanginess of true buttermilk.
For the fluffiest pancakes, you’ve got to use all-purpose flour.
Likewise, I’m always tempted to cut back on the fat in the batter, but for truly unforgettable pancakes you need a decent quantity of melted butter;
it makes such a difference. The pancakes will be both crispier on the outsides, fluffier inside and so very delicious.
Leave the mixing of wet and dry ingredients until the very last minute—like when the pan is already pre-heated!
This way the baking powder and soda will do most of their work on the griddle, and not in the bowl. And like mom always said, stirring too much is the enemy of fluffy pancakes. Give the batter just a few assertive, complete stirs then leave it alone; lumps are a good thing. They’ll work themselves out during the cooking.
Once the grill is preheated, brush it with a very thin layer of butter or canola oil. Keep the heat at medium to medium-low so the pancakes cook through without burning. If you like blueberries (or chocolate chips) in the pancakes, the best time to add them is right after pouring the batter onto the pan (don’t add them directly to the batter).
Whether or not you’ve added some extras, leave the pancakes to cook until the top surface is covered with air bubbles; this is the pancake telling you it’s time to flip! But only flip once. Then eat them up quickly! Pancakes are as always best when they’re fresh off the griddle.
World’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons flax meal or hemp hearts (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken before measuring
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup melted butter
- Whisk the flour with flax meal or hemp hearts (if using), sugar, baking powder and soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk the buttermilk with eggs and melted butter in a small bowl.
- Heat your largest non-stick frying pan over medium and turn the oven to its lowest setting. Pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir it assertively but no more than 5 – 7 times. It’s okay if you can still see streaks of flour, in fact that’s a good thing!
- By now the pan should be hot. Brush it lightly with butter or canola oil. Use a small measuring cup to pour in the batter (which is very thick). Leave the pancakes alone until the surface is covered with small bubbles. Flip and cook another minute or so. The tops of the pancakes should look matte (not shiny). Don’t touch the pancakes and never ever flip them again.
- Transfer them to a rack on a baking sheet and keep the pancakes warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the batter. For subsequent batches, you’ll likely need to reduce the heat under the pan to medium-low.
Makes: about 10 pancakes