Did you know this was actually one of the earliest recipes I ever posted on this blog? Not this exact one, but something similar that I have now adapted.
Because in the spirit of Ms. Laurie Colwin and all of the misguided adventures she writes about in ‘Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen’ (1988), pancakes are, I must admit, something I had to do several hundred times before I felt super confident enough to just wap them out of a weekend. Now I can’t stop making them, and if you follow me on Instagram, then I have no doubt you are sick of seeing me fry batter every weekend.
Everybody has some fierce connection to pancakes and where you fall in the diagram of the pyramid of pancakes you prefer.
Growing up, my mam – not often, but sometimes – would make several stacks of the thin, crepe style pancakes that would be piled up to be snatched at throughout the day. She would also stack the accompaniments – lemon juice, sugar, different variations of cream, syrups, fruit, icing sugar, Nutella, I could go on – all of which were placed within an arm’s reach of the pancakes to decorate your fluffy skyscraper.
It was almost military precision in the way my mam would cook – or fry – them, however we would all have a turn in flipping the pancake in its pan, a skill within itself. She has also tried to photograph us mid-flip – suffice to say there are many a picture of myself as a kid with a questionable facial expression trying to successfully flip the pancake.
I never did, but the taste was great nonetheless.
But I now, as a rule, opt for the American style pancakes. Smaller in boundary, so that I reason with myself that I can eat more. It’s a terrible logic, but let’s roll with it. I think the flipping of a crepe style pancake gives me all sorts of anxiety that it will rip or tear, whereas the ticker, more plump pancakes can literally just be tossed over on to their backs with the flick of a spatula and if it splatters in the pan a little bit, you can just push it back under and no one will knows.
And I like this kind of control.
But there are many mistakes that can potentially happen with pancakes, such as your batter is too thin, or your pan is too hot so you’ve overcooked the outsides and undercooked the insides. Trust me, these are all mistakes I have made a thousand times.
But like Laurie Colwin taught me, you persevere.
So a lot of practice later, I have come to this recipe, and I am very fond of them. They are soft, puffy and springy but still have a wonderful texture so that it’s not just flabby fried batter. I put it down to my ingredients ratio, which at first glance, may seem a bit strange to what you would expect from a pancake batter, but these are the ratios I have found to get me the exact pancake I want – the batter not too thick and definitely not too runny.
I use a self raising flour PLUS an extra bit of baking powder, and I think that sudden burst of lift in the pancake is exactly what we need with these thicker style pancakes, as opposed to relying on a plain flour on it’s own to recognise lifting agents and pray for the leg up.
Everybody needs a little help sometimes.
And disclaimer, this recipe only yields 4 humble pancakes. If I make more, I’ll eat them all and… and I just… I have to show my body mercy sometimes. So if you need more, double the quantities but these measurements should yield 4 perfectly plump pancakes plus 1 extra, because as we all know, the first pancake you tend to fry is shit, but we eat it anyway.
Use that first pancake trial, a way to test the heat of your pan, the speed of your pour, the consistency of the batter, whether or not it needs more sugar etc – its a perfect opportunity to not only do a practice run, but see what else you may need to do to the batter to get your perfect pancake.
It’s an edible lesson.
Makes 4 pancakes
50ml buttermilk or 50ml natural yogurt loosened with 2 -3 tablespoons full-fat milk
50g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Vegetable oil for the pan
- Measure out the buttermilk (or natural yogurt and milk) in a jug
- In a large bowl (or better still, another big jug to make the batter pouring easier) combine the flour, baking powder and sugar with a pinch of salt and fork together.
- Pour the buttermilk into the flour, crack in the egg and add the vanilla. Using a whisk, beat everything together until combined, but don’t overmix. A lumpy batter is not the worst thing in the world here. The batter can be put in the fridge at this stage, like overnight or for a few hours, but you can also just crack on if you wanted.
- Warm a teaspoon of the vegetable oil in a heavy based pan or griddle on a medium heat. Now add the pancake batter to the pan, a 1/4 cupful at a time. Eventually, after frying many pancakes, I doubt you’ll ever need specific measurements there – you’ll just eye it. A tip though, you want to pour as close to the pan as possible so you can do your best to control the spread of the pancake. If you pour from a height, the rush of batter from the jug will hit the pan with more force and spread quicker, making a thinner pancake. I tend to just put 2 at a time in the pan so that it’s less stress to monitor and flip them.
- Allow to fry for about 2 – 3 minutes and when you start to see little pockets of bubbles on the surface, it’s time to flip and fry on the other side for about 2 minutes. If the pancakes splatter a little when you flipped, you can neaten up the pancake by pushing the edges back under the pancake, no one will know. After 2 minutes, remove them to a plate and cover with a tea towel to keep warm while you fry the remaining batter.
- After you have fried your pancakes, serve as you see fit. My perfect scenario is with some crispy rashers of bacon (baked in the oven for extra crispiness), a dab of butter and a streak of maple syrup, American diner style, but for lazy mornings, just the butter and maple syrup will do.