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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest Blog: cj's Perfect Pancakes

Well hello dear readers! I'm ijj's wife...and for today, your guest-blogger. If you've read my handsome husband's blog in any detail, you'll probably have discerned that I'm not often in the kitchen. However, I firmly believe that a girl should have at least one or two specialities up her sleeve; this is one of mine. My perfect pancakes.

I probably make these a couple times a month. Partly because I think they're delicious, but mostly because my dear, sweet husband bats his pretty eyes at me, flatteringly tells me that they're his most favourite breakfast item and, best yet, promptly leaves the kitchen. 

So to start, I'll admit that unlike my adventurous husband, I like a good recipe. Especially when baking. So I started with one of my most trusted resources, the ATK Baking Book. Basically, that recipe calls for:

2 cup Flour
2 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Cup Buttermilk
3 tbsp butter (melted)
1 egg

That recipe makes a LOT of pancakes, so, depending on our hunger levels, whether or not we have brunch guests, etc, I usually divide the ingredients (halve, 1.5, etc - this is especially fun as it forces my brain to do MATH). Anyway, I mentioned that I use this recipe as a starting point...what's been great about having this be one of MY kitchen endeavours is that I've been able to get A LOT of practice in, and now can pretty handily make additions according to the season, ingredients on-hand or my mood.

First, I mixed together the dry ingredients:

Sometimes I substitute some whole-wheat flour or wheat bran, but today I just went for regular all-purpose. I also really, really prefer the taste of brown sugar to white in almost everything, so that's the sugar I use. I like to do a decent job of mixing the dry ingredients together now so that you don't end up with yucky clumps of baking soda later.

Then in a separate bowl, I've got my wet ingredients going:

Since I never have buttermilk in the house, I just add a 1 tbsp of lemon juice per cup of milk (I use skim) and let sit for just a bit. I melt the butter and let it cool a little, while I add an egg, some vanilla (come on ATK, why WOULDN'T YOU add vanilla?) and for today...that clump in the middle of my bowl of milk is a mashed banana. Delicious. The egg AND banana meant extra fluffiness, so I also added a titch more milk to counteract. I whisk all together and then pour into a well I've created into the dry ingredients:

I mix all of this together really, really gently. You'll note that there are a LOT of clumps. That's good. If you mix too much, you'll start to create gluten or something science-y (I leave THAT to ijj as well), which mostly means that instead of light and fluffy, they become tough and yucky. So leave the clumps.

And then you cook!

Alas, I don't have the room for a counter-top griddle, so I just use a big, non-stick frying-pan. And I make my pancakes fairly uniform by using a 1/3 measuring cup to pour. Today, ijj started the ball rolling with some excellent applewood-smoked bacon in my pan, so I used the gribblies from that to make the first batch. Otherwise, I brush a little sunflower/canola oil on my pan. This is important. Even though it's a non-stick pan, a little bit of oil gives your pancakes a little bit of crisp on the edges. Truly delicious. You'll also note that I've added blueberries! When you're adding fresh fruit, drop them in at this stage rather than mixing into the batter. It's just better this way, trust me.

And voila! Perfect pancakes! 

Today's was banana and blueberry, but there are so many options! At Christmas, I like to replace the milk with eggnog! Or try adding frozen wild blueberries into the mixture (delicious blue pancakes)...I could go on.

Thanks for reading!