Cooking on the fly -- adding a pinch of that, a smidge of this and a handful of whatnot -- doesn't work with baking and that's what you're doing with pancakes, using the heat of the griddle to bake the batter. Baking requires precise measurements because of the chemical reaction between the ingredients. For example, if the recipe calls for milk and baking powder or soda, using water instead of the milk won't work. The leavening ingredients, the baking powder or soda requires an acid to form the bubbles that makes the pancake fluffy. Milk has lactic acid, water has no acid. A simple trick for making pancakes is to measure the ingredients carefully and don't make substitutions.
It may seem like an amazing feat to turn a little flour, milk, eggs and baking powder into that breakfast treat called pancakes. Homemade pancakes, bathed in maple syrup and oozing butter, turn Sunday breakfast into a special family get-together. Learn a few tricks and you'll make perfect pancakes every time.
Know when to stop. The easiest trick for making pancakes is being lazy. Stir the batter until the ingredients are just blended, a few lumps are to be expected. If the batter is perfectly smooth, it's been overmixed. Be even lazier and take a rest between mixing the batter and making the pancakes. Put the batter aside for one hour to rest. The pancakes will be fluffier.
The trick to perfect pancakes is the temperature of the griddle. It should be hot enough that a drop of water bounces or skitters on the surface. If the drop sits there and boils, the temperature is too low. If the drop immediately evaporates, the temperature is too high. When using an electric griddle, don't always believe the temperature setting, test with a drop of water as well. Nonstick griddles make it easier to remove the pancake but don't add any flavor. Use a dollop of butter on the griddle and the edges will get a crisp edge and, of course, the butter flavor adds to the taste of the pancake.
Instead of serving pancakes with sausage, ham or bacon, incorporate the meat into the pancake. Cook and then crumble or chop the meat. The smoky sweetness of bacon is enhanced by maple syrup. If you don't want to add meat, try fruits. When using frozen fruits, bring them to room temperature and drain before adding to the batter. Try a combination of fruits and nuts. For example, transform plain pancakes into Hawaiian-style by adding shredded coconut, drained crushed pineapple and macadamia nuts to the batter.
- "The Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer; 1972
- "The Art of Cooking Preparing and Presenting Fine Food"; Arnold Zabert; 1984
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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