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How to Make Pancakes

A breakfast favorite all cooks should have in their recipe boxes.

Fine Cooking Issue 102
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Nothing beats starting the day with a stack of fluffy, tender, pipinghot buttermilk pancakes. Luckily, they’re easy to make at home, and their light texture and slightly tangy flavor make them far superior to any pancake that comes from a mix. Keep in mind the simple tips listed below, and you’ll be flipping your way to a delicious breakfast in no time.

Need to Know

Mix separately Mixing the wet and dry ingredients in separate bowls helps avoid overmixing after you’ve combined them. Overmixing leads to tough, heavy pancakes.

Keep it lumpy To minimize gluten formation, mix the wet ingredients into the dry just until the batter is evenly moistened; there should still be lumps.

Let it rest Letting the batter sit while you heat the griddle allows any gluten that has formed a chance to relax, giving you a more tender pancake.

Use the right heat If your griddle is too hot, the pan-cakes will burn but stay raw inside. Too cold, and they won’t brown or rise. The griddle is at the right temperature when water droplets dance on it before evaporating.

Know when to flip Cook pancakes until bubbles cover the exposed surface, the edges look dry, and the bottoms are nicely browned. Flip before all the bubbles break.

Buttermilk Stand-Ins

These pancakes get their tangy flavor and light-as-air texture from buttermilk. But in a pinch, you can use any of these substitutions:

Powdered buttermilk Use according to package directions, adding water to the wet ingredients and the powder to the dry.
“Sour milk” Add 2 Tbs. white vinegar or lemon juice to 2 cups whole milk and let it stand for 10 minutes to thicken slightly; add to the wet ingredients.
Yogurt and milk Add 1 cup plain yogurt and 1 cup milk (both can be full-fat or low-fat) to the wet ingredients.

Tool Kit

Check to make sure you have these kitchen essentials before making pancakes:

• Small microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan
• Whisk
• Measuring cups and spoons
• Medium and large bowls
• Stovetop griddle, electric griddle, or large skillet
• Spatula
• Baking sheet


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