How to Make the Perfect Pancake

I am no pancake flipper.

Seriously – when I flip pancakes it usually ends in disaster.

And when met with the frustration of disaster over and over again … I keep at it until I figure out what I am doing wrong and how I can better it.

Then I flipped these beauties the other day:

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I cannot believe how lovely and whole and not burnt/not messy/not gooey they look!

Perfect pancakes.

And this, after YEARS of developing a strategy that only sometimes works.

The plus side: I had delicious blueberry pancakes.

The plus-plus side: I am now sharing why this was a possibility after the jump!

So, perfect pancakes is what you want – we need to start with

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The Batter

I grew up in a house devoid of the Aunt Jemima mixes. Those boxed mixes that promise that if you just add water, you’ll get that fluffy buttermilk taste and consistency in the pancakes that make in your dreams. Generally, my mother frowns at box mixes and for the most part, we make things from scratch (cookies, pancakes, cakes, everything but our own puff pastry and pasta).  So, when it came to pancakes (and just so you know, pancakes were an every weekend thing at our house) my Mom would grab her canisters of flour, carton of eggs, etc and have them all laid out and measured to mix together. When I moved out for law school, and even a little before on trips with friends or when I was alone at home for the weekend (because I had too many weekend shifts and everyone was at the cottage), I flirted with the boxed mixes. I mean – why not? They’re easy and fast and require me to do precisely two things: open the box and add water. What was not to love? As I developed my box-mix technique, I replaced the water with milk and added some cinnamon, and it was alright. The biggest difference between my Mom’s pancakes and my boxed ones was … the consistency.

Consistency – as in, the thickness of the batter in this case.  And let me just say – thickness matters.

My Mom’s recipes eventually evolved, due mostly to my Dad’s health fads and insistence, to include greek yogurt (blueberry of course) that made a thick  batter. Now, you may disagree, but over the years I have found that thick batter is what cinches pancake flipping success. Thicker batter (up to a point) makes it not only easier to flip, but also easier to handle in general – think about it, when you’re pouring thicker batter into a pan to fry off, it travels slowly, giving you enough time to correct anything as it falls to the surface. Meanwhile, thinner batter is like water and then splashes everywhere making a mess you’ll have to clean up and burning the second it hit the pan. Not fun.

Another reason why thicker batter is better? Blueberries. Or chocolate chips or sprinkles, or really anything you want to add to your batter for pancakes. The thicker the batter (within reason) the better the morsels will be held by it, and so the more of a liklihood that you’ll have blueberry pancakes as opposed to pancakes and fried blueberries (which, btw, should totally be a thing).

Have I convinced you?

Good, here’s my Mom’s basic pancake recipe ingredient list:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (likely, blueberry)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4  c flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • More blueberries.

All you do is mix all the wet in one bowl, all the dry in another, then integrate them together and add the blueberries. Then you flip (as described below!) and serve with Canadian Real Maple Syrup (none of that fake stuff!).

Or if you’re inclined, my favourite recipe du jour for pancakes is this one:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted & cool
  • dash of vanilla extract

As before – combine the wet, then combine the dry, then mix ’em all together, add your blueberries or chocolate or what-have-yous and start flipping!

And I am definitely out for trying this particular recipe I found for pancakes in jars when I don’t feel like flipping … but that’s not today! Today is all about the flipping!

So now that you have your batter in your bowl, and you’ve heated up (more on that below!) and buttered (ditto!) your pan/griddle – what’s next!?

 

The Ladle

Right, so you think I am being a little overly dramatic about this ladle thing right? Well … yes and no.

I have tried a soup ladle, tranferring the batter to a jug and even (with a very messy turn of events) using an old cleaned out ketchup bottle to squeeze batter out onto the pan. Now, granted, some of these forms of ladling require a certain consistency in the batter (do not try a thick batter in a ketchup bottle, just trust me on this one), but for the most part they seem to be pretty interchangeable.

My preferred method varies with the thickness – lately I have been preferring an overly large soup spoon since I am making thicker batter, but for medium thickness of batter, I would recommend the jug option – it’s super easy, super eficient and generally means less cleanup.

I will add a note here about spatulas: I have seen people use metal, wooden and plastic spatulas. All I can say is: How!? I have my trusty metal spautla and I cannot imagine trying to flip things over with anything else (unless I am using my cast iron pan, in which case, wood all the way!). That is all I have to say about that …

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The Temperature

Now, this part I can definitely say is a must. I have experimented with varying temperatures: start high, then turn to low; keep it on high (because I’m hungry); keep it on low; keep it on medium; and all variaations thereof. And I have come to the conclusion that Medium – and even low-medium – is the way to go on the stovetop. No, seriously. I know you’re hungry. I know you may even be hangry (I definitely can be). But you have to believe when I say – all you’ll get from shifting the heat to high is burnt on the outside, gooey on the inside failed pancakes.

My recommendation is to keep it on a pretty steady Medium heat, and don’t start funnelling batter into the pan until the pan is hot.

And, that my friends, I acknowledge requires a lot of …

 

Patience.

Amiright? Tonnes of patience.

And usually, patience I don’t have. I hear ya – who has time for the stupid food item to get all goldeny brown?

No one, that’s who.

Generally, you want a few minutes per side – more on the front end than the other side, so say maybe 6 minutes in total for each pancake. That’s a lot of time that no one ever seems to have …

But I have formed a trick for myself: I get everything else done. Seems simple … so simple I wish I had thought of it in my early 20s (so many burned pancakes … so many …), but it’s effective. While the first nearly-realized pancake is on the griddle, I grab the coffee and start making a pot, then I turn back to the griddle and flip, then I set to finding the stash of fruit I have in the fridge and between flipping pancakes, I chop of fruit to go with breakfast. Otherwise I write blog posts. Or dance around to the Spice Girls.

You know, essential things.

And before I pour out another spoonful of batter, I make sure I use the …

 

Butter.

Okay, that was a bad use of the “…” principle. Forgive me.

Anyways, I always re-butter my pan between pancakes. Every time. I usually use a butter spray can thing, not actual butter (usually …) but solid butter works too.

Basically what I am saying is: if you butter the pan between pancakes, there is less likely going to be a sticking issue later.

Right – logical, simple – but needed to be said (particularly within hearing distance of the Boy who claims butter is bad for you … what craziness is that!?)

 

The Flick of the Wrist

Okay this one’s a little weird.

I have developed a flicking of my wrist (I do not, for various stated and implied reason, flip the pan) to turn over pancakes.

I am not even sure how to explain it.

I get the pancake on the face of the spatula almost completely, then just quickly toss it over. Like playing Slap Jack only without my sister smashing my fingers in with her nails.

You develop your own flick. Then tell me about it 🙂

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The Devil-May-Care Attitude

This is more a general thing. To flip pancakes one must adopt a “Meh, if they end up sort of weirdly shaped they’ll still taste good” mantra of an attitude.

Stop caring about what the instgram photos will look like. That’ll come.

 

Syrup. Lots of Syrup.

And what kind of syrup? Canadian Maple Syrup! Yes, my dear readers – the only kind of yummy syrup for pancakes …

I remember a time when I was a kid … maybe 11 or so? And my cousins, sisters and I – without supervision (I think my grandmother was watching us? She must have been outside) decided we would make lunch by ourselves – pancakes, from scratch. For some reason one of us (I actually am pretty sure it was me) read “1 tbsp baking powder” to mean a cup of the stuff and we ended up with pancakes that were more like round cement disks than fluffy yumminess. Suffice it to say, I think we cleared out the entire supply of real maple syrup my Mom had at home, determined as we were to eat them. I think we might have used a jar of Nutella too.

The moral of the story: real Canadian maple syrup solves everything.

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And there you have it – Perfect Pancakes that only took me a good twenty odd years to sort out!

Now go forth and send me your pictures! Would love to see your own techniques! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “How to Make the Perfect Pancake

  1. I’m definitely going to try those recipes! For your mom’s is it melted butter? My first batch always come out great and after that they burn because the pan is too hot.

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