About this time last year, my father and I did a road trip in the American midwest. I was researching a project of mine and he came along for the ride. Well, technically speaking, it was me who was doing the riding as Dad drove most of the time. On the agenda were Minnesotan lakes (for me) and notable regional architecture (for him) - from dilapidated barns, to a Frank Lloyd Wright gas station (with an observation deck for you to look over the countryside you've just traversed), to the most beautiful bank in all the world, in Owatonna MN (designed by Louis Sullivan). We clocked up a lot of miles, saw a lot of pretty leaves and ate a lot of pancakes. Most days we'd start the morning perusing a laminated plastic menu while sipping bottomless cups of lukewarm coffee, the Rand McNally road atlas open on the table between us.
Dad came down to visit recently. We looked at photos from our trip. And I made him pancakes.
There's something about pancakes for breakfast that is inherently exciting, hence the inclusion of the exclamation mark in the title of this post. There are endless variations on the basic combination of eggs, flour, milk and sugar (fruit, nuts, grains, ricotta... the list goes on and on) but when I'm making them at home, I like to keep it simple.
from Martha Stewart via Smitten Kitchen
Did you know you don't have to buy buttermilk but can make your own with two ingredients you're likely to have in the house already (thereby removing the need to plan ahead or get out of your pajamas before breakfast if, like most people you don't have a ready supply of buttermilk in the fridge)? Just add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to each cup of milk you're using and wait five minutes for the mixture to curdle.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or slightly less table salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing the pan
Put the oven on a low heat (150 deg C / 300 deg F).
Place a pan over medium high heat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons melted butter, and whisk to combine. The batter should have small to medium lumps.
Test the pan by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If the water bounces and spatters, the pan is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush half of the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (so 1/2 tablespoon) onto the pan.
Use a measuring cup/large spoon/ladle (according to the size of pancake you desire) to pour the batter into the pan. When the pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around the edges (about 2 1/2 minutes), flip over. If any batter oozes out, push it back under with your spatula. Cook until golden on bottom, about one minute.
Repeat with remaining batter, using final 1/2 tablespoon of butter on the pan if necessary. Put cooked pancakes on a plate in the oven (so they don't get cold!) til you're ready to eat.
Serve warm with maple syrup.