The one pancake to a pan pancake: Half of one makes for a hearty breakfast. Perfectly crispy on the outside, light and fluffy and jammed full of fruit on the inside, served with a couple strips of thick bacon and maple syrup, who needs the other food groups? Well, coffee…
I’ve been messing around with pancakes for a long time. Here’s what I now think I know about making the perfect pancake.
First, while one can make them from scratch, there is no reason to. Krusteaz has come up with a mix that nails it. We buy Krusteaz mix in bulk at Costco and enjoy waffles or pancakes – or both – once or twice a week.
Second, put the butter in the pan, not on the pancake. Pancakes fry up crispier, turn a lovely golden brown, and taste more decadent when fried in roughly equal parts light olive oil and butter.
Third, the right pan makes a big difference. Barbra and I have become big fans of Swiss Diamond nonstick cookware. The pans are thick and heavy, so food scorch is avoided, and once they heat up, they cook with incredible evenness.
Fourth, do your best to get away with as little water and as little mixing as possible. The result is a fluffier pancake.
Fifth, forget medium heat. Low and long is the way to go. I start on medium-low, and then go a little lower than that, giving the cake time to rise without burning.
Sixth, one big pancake cooks up better – in every regard – than several small ones. Think 11 1/2″ pan and enough batter to cover most of it. Big pancakes can hold more fruit per volume and rise up higher and fluffier than smaller pancakes. (Get a big spatula, and be ready for a little splatter when you flip the cake.)
And finally… Fruit. Adding a generous amount of fruit to the batter lends more than just the added flavor and texture of the fruit itself to the cake; it also adds a creaminess that a fruitless pancake cannot match. Whole blueberries are great, and as this is Alaska, we use them frequently. Chopped bananas are superb. But our favorite? Strawberries. There is something about fresh strawberries, diced, that takes a pancake to another world.
Honey, jam, preserves or maple syrup – they all do a good pancake justice. Crispy around the edges, creamy in the middle, the maple syrup getting on the bacon, a hot cup of coffee to cut through the sweetness… It’s good morning food.
A big blueberry pancake, just about ready to be cut in half and served for breakfast.