Fruit lends a pleasantly fresh flavor to the breakfast table, either on its own or as a garnish for hot and cold morning favorites. Blueberry pancakes are an iconic variation on the theme, the intense color and flavor of the berries providing a vivid counterpart to the sweet and golden pancakes. Adding blueberries to a boxed instant mix is the quickest way to prepare this morning treat, though scratch-made pancakes take only a little more effort.
The Basic Batter
Basic pancake batter is a relatively simple thing, even if you don't have a recipe close at hand. You need a teaspoon of baking powder for every cup of flour, as well as a pinch of salt and roughly a teaspoon of sugar, if you like them lightly sweetened. Whisk those ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk one egg for every cup of flour, and then add milk until your liquids equal your flour. For example, with 2 cups of flour, beat 2 eggs and then add enough milk to bring the total liquid to 2 cups. Add a tablespoon or two of melted butter, and then whisk the milk into your flour just to incorporate it.
A Few Variables
Many "scratch" pancake recipes call for buttermilk instead of sweet milk, which gives them a pleasant tang and richer flavor. The basic recipe is the same, except that for every cup of flour you also need 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. Buttermilk pancakes tend to rise slightly more than sweet-milk pancakes and brown to a deeper color. Substitute buckwheat, whole wheat or multi-grain flour, if you wish, for some or all of the regular flour. Some are more absorbent than others, so feel free to use extra milk or buttermilk as needed. Your batter should have a consistency slightly thicker than heavy cream. For extra-light pancakes, separate your eggs, whip the whites, and then fold them back into the batter.
Pick Your Berries
Of course, it's the berries that make blueberry pancakes fun. Fresh berries are always best when they're in season. Either small, intensely flavored wild blueberries or the larger, sweeter high-bush varieties are suitable. Add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of berries for every cup of flour in your batter, and fold them in gently. You can also use frozen berries, but they're a bit more troublesome because they tend to leak juice into your batter. One alternative is to thaw the berries, rinse away the surplus juice in a colander, and drain them well before adding them to the batter. Alternatively, use the berries frozen -- keeping the juice in the berry -- and scatter them over the pancake once it's in the pan.
Cooking the Pancakes
You can prepare blueberry pancakes on an electric nonstick griddle, but they brown best and rise most effectively on a heavy cast-iron skillet or griddle. Heat the skillet to a medium-high temperature -- it shouldn't quite be smoking -- and then oil or grease it lightly. Use a 1/4-cup ladle or cup for 4-inch pancakes, or a 1/2-cup measure for 5- to 6-inch pancakes. Spread the batter gently with the back of your ladle to distribute it evenly. if you're using frozen berries, start with roughly 2/3 of the batter, scatter the berries over top, and then add the remaining third. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until the underside browns and the top gets bubbly, and then flip and cook the pancake for another 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the pancakes as they're made, or keep them warm in a 200 degree Fahrenheit oven until you finish cooking.
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