Making good pancakes depends on three key factors: mixing the batter to the right consistency, heating the griddle properly and recognizing when to turn the cakes.
Whether making pancake batter from scratch or from a packaged mix, stir it just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. The batter should remain lumpy; overmixing makes pancakes tough. For best results, cover the batter and refrigerate one to two hours so the flour expands and absorbs the moisture.
To cook the batter, preheat the griddle over medium heat. It's ready when a few drops of cold water sizzle and dance when sprinkled onto the surface (Step 1). If the water just sits and boils, the griddle isn't hot enough; if it evaporates instantly, reduce the heat.
Brush the griddle lightly with oil (Step 2) unless it has a non-stick surface or is well seasoned. Other types of fat--shortening, butter or margarine--may be used.
The easiest way to check the consistency of the batter is to cook a trial pancake. Typically, 1/4-cup batter forms a pancake about five inches in diameter. Pouring the batter close to the griddle surface (Step 3) helps to keep the pancake round, and using a measuring cup assures uniform size.
Pancakes are ready to turn when bubbles form and begin to break on the upper surface and the edges look dry. Turn with a spatula wide enough to accommodate the size of the pancake. Normally, the first side needs to cook two to three minutes, but the second side will cook in about half that time. Turn the pancakes only once.
The pancake should turn out golden-brown, light and tender and cooked through in the center. If the batter is too thick, adjust with a little water; if too thin, add a little flour.
Pancakes are best served at once, either in a stack with syrup or stuffed, rolled or glazed with a sauce and then placed under the broiler.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in bowl. Set aside.
In separate large bowl, beat egg and blend in 1 cup buttermilk. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and blend until flour disappears. Blend in melted butter. Add up to 1/4 cup more buttermilk, if thinner pancakes are desired.
For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle, lightly greased with butter. Cook until edges look dry and bubbles form and begin to break on upper surface.
Turn and cook second side. Serve with syrup. Makes about 14 (3-inch) pancakes.
Each pancake, without syrup, contains about:
60 calories; 82 mg sodium; 20 mg cholesterol; 2 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.02 gram fiber.
Nut Pancakes--Stir 1/3 cup chopped nuts into batter.
Corn Pancakes--Immediately after pouring batter onto griddle, sprinkle 1 tablespoon drained whole-kernel corn over each pancake.
Blueberry Pancakes--Immediately after pouring batter onto griddle, sprinkle 1 tablespoon fresh or well-drained canned or frozen blueberries over each pancake.
Banana Pancakes--Immediately after pouring batter onto griddle, place 2 to 3 thin banana slices on each pancake.