Tips For Making Great Homemade Pancakes
Knowing how to make homemade pancakes is a valuable skill whether you’ve just moved into your first apartment or you are welcoming a houseful of relatives for the holidays. They’re quick, hot, delicious, and easily customized for every taste.
There are two options when making homemade pancakes, using a mix or making them from scratch.
Using a mix:
Don’t dismiss mixes out of hand, especially if you’re just learning how to make homemade pancakes. How well your pancakes turn out depends just as much on technique as it depends on ingredients. Using a pancake mix allows you to focus on refining your technique before having to worry about measuring and sifting.
Pancake mixes run from the very basic to the gourmet. Krusteaz Buttermilk is a reliable just-add-water mix. With Bisquick baking mix, you add milk and eggs for a heartier pancake. Other mixes can be gluten-free, organic, or come in varieties such as macadamia nut or pumpkin. Whichever mix you choose, the technique will be largely the same.
Using a recipe:
There are hundreds of recipes for pancakes online. Here is one basic recipe:
In a bowl, mix together
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter or cooking oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
½ teaspoon salt
Mix quickly with a wire whisk as discussed below.
First, set your pan to heat. I use an electric skillet set to 375 degrees. On the stove, this would probably be about number seven. Let the pan heat up while you mix up the batter.
Place the mix in a bowl, then add water or other ingredients as the box calls for. The first time, use the amounts listed on the box. The box will warn you not to overmix. Flour contains gluten, a protein that when activated makes dough stretchy. This is great for bread (the kneading activates the gluten) but terrible for pancakes. Stirring, beating, or doing anything more than absolutely necessary will toughen your pancakes. The key is in your tools. Spoons or forks will require too many strokes—by the time the batter is mixed properly, it will be too tough. Use a wire balloon whisk. They are widely available, easily affordable, and extremely useful. (Use them to mix water into your condensed soup or frozen orange juice.) Five to ten strokes should do it. Lumps smaller than raisins are all right. Better lumpy than tough.
Spray your pan with nonstick spray and check to make sure it is hot enough. Water will sizzle when flicked onto the hot surface. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to scoop your batter onto the pan (one tablespoon for dollar pancakes). Let it cook until the entire surface is covered in bubbles and the edges are dry. Slide a flat pancake turner under the pancake and flip it over. Cook for about the same amount of time. It’s all right to lift up the edge with your pancake turner to check for color. When it’s ready, slide onto a plate and serve. If you want to serve them all at once, you can put them on a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven to keep them warm while you make more batches, but they’re really best fresh off the skillet.
Troubleshooting and customizing your pancakes:
A wonderful side effect of knowing how to make homemade pancakes is being able to make them just the way you like them. This will take practice, but that just means you get to eat more pancakes in the meantime! If your pancakes are too thick or are dome-shaped, thin them with a little water or milk. If they are too thin or runny, add some extra flour or mix. More oil will make them crisper. In fact, if you add about two tablespoons of oil or butter per cup of mix or flour, you now have waffle batter.
You can also add other ingredients. Try a dash of cinnamon and some raisins. Toss in some chocolate chips or (thawed, drained) frozen blueberries. Plop in a spoonful of pumpkin butter or apple butter. Sprinkle chopped bananas or nuts into the pancake batter just after you’ve poured it onto the pan. It’s your house and your pancakes. Make them the perfect pancakes for you.
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