And we love our pancakes. I come from a long line of pancake makers, each with her own signature flair. My mother poured them into teddy-bear shapes, making eyes with chocolate chips. My mother-in-law slathered the tops of hers with butter that melted into golden pools on the plate. My aunt spread raspberry jam over thin ones, more crepe than pancake, and rolled them into cylinders to be served under a shower of powdered sugar. These are mine, the buttermilk tang muted by a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar in the batter. A stack of three, fluffy and golden brown, next to some thick-sliced bacon makes a feast.
This of all foods never lacks for appreciation at my breakfast table. My first-born asked for these, with mimosas to drink, on the morning she turned 21. My last-born has on occasion pounded her fork-wielding fist on the table, jailhouse-style, while waiting impatiently for these to cook — as if that got her anything but clean-up duty afterward. If I ever have to clear out of my house fast, I’m grabbing (Country Living) Country Mornings Cookbook, edited by Lucy Wing (© 1989 The Hearst Corporation) from the cookbook wall. My pancake recipe is adapted from one in that volume. (I will also grab a hundred other cookbooks, plus the pets, and that birds’ nest that fell out of the tree in the front yard.)
1/4 cup (half of a stick) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (I usually get Bulgarian as opposed to low-fat or regular; it’s a little more tart.)
1 large egg, broken into a small bowl (Check for pieces of shell!)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cut the butter into pieces, put into a small glass bowl, and melt in the microwave. Watch carefully so that the butter doesn’t overheat and bubble over. Set aside to cool. With the buttermilk in a measuring cup with a lip, add the egg and stir with a fork to combine. Put all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and stir briskly with a whisk. Scrape the flour mixture away from the bottom center of the bowl. (This helps make sure the liquid you’re about to add reaches all parts of the dry ingredients.)
Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined. Gently scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to expose any pockets of flour. Stir in the cooled, melted butter, and mix just until combined. The batter should be lumpy.
Heat a non-stick griddle or skillet over medium heat. My griddle is large, electric, and holds a dozen pancakes at a time. (Remember, I’ve got someone doing a noisy impression of a hungry inmate at my breakfast table, so I want to cook a lot at once.) A smaller skillet will hold around four pancakes. Lightly coat the griddle or skillet surface with a little vegetable oil, and when it’s hot enough to make a drop of water dance, spoon out puddles of batter. Leave a little space between each to accommodate some spreading, and to give you room to maneuver a pancake spatula.
When bubbles begin to appear on the uncooked surface, carefully lift one edge of the first pancake and check for color. Mostly golden brown is your goal. Once attained, flip each pancake to cook the other side. (Tops too brown with gooey insides? Lower the heat.)
Serve with butter and syrup. Feeds 4.