Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Buttermilk Pancakes

These are not the cakey kind of pancakes that you would describe as "light" or "fluffy." They're tangy, spongy, and damp--a little like the injera you might get at an Ethiopian restaurant to scoop your stew. Only not made from fermented teff. We looooove them. Everybody does. Try them, even if you have a mix that you like. They will take you, like, 11 seconds longer to measure and stir than a mix would, and they're stunningly delicious. Plus, if you have leftovers, you can seal them up in a Ziploc bag and pop them in the freezer, and then defrost them in your toaster oven for school-morning breakfasts. If we make pancakes on a Sunday, then we usually have enough leftover to get through Tuesday or so of the school week, which is pretty good, right?

Buttermilk Pancakes
Milk will make an okay pancake, but not a fabulously tangy one. Buy a quart of buttermilk and then plan to make cornbread with the leftovers. These pancakes are not sweet and we don't put fruit in them, but we do slather them with jam and syrup.

1 1/2 cups flour (I use, yes, half spelt)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
Jam and syrup for serving

Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. If your buttermilk and eggs are cold, then the butter will kind of seize and clump, but you don't need to fret about it. Pour the wets into the dries and whisk it all until it's nice and smooth. If you like your pancakes thinnish, and we do, then the batter should be about the texture of thick paint; whisk in a little more buttermilk if it seems really thick. 

Now pour it into a squeeze bottle, if you like, or else scoop it directly onto the hot griddle. You know, the griddle that's been heating over medium heat until a flick of water bounces and steams on contact. Butter the griddle well and then begin pouring on your batter, using a third of a cup or so for each pancake, but really just kind of eyeballing it. 

When the pancakes are nice and bubbled on top and the undersides are brown, flip them and cook another minute or so to brown the bottoms lightly. Taste one: it should be nice and brown on the outside and nice and moist--but not raw--on the inside; if they're cooking too fast or too slow, adjust the heat accordingly. Rebutter the pan as needed between batches. If you like, you can keep the pancakes in a 200-degree oven until they're all cooked, or else serve them as they're ready, taking turns eating and manning the griddle. 

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