Friday, August 07, 2020

Little Buttermilk Pancakes

I saw a recipe for lacy cornmeal pancakes with strawberry compote in Bon Appétit and decided to try it, but I ended up being disappointed. I think that, for one thing, the compote would have been better with seasonal Quebec strawberries (which I can’t have this year because the pandemic made us decide to stay put in Texas), and for another thing, I’m really more into traditional fluffy pancakes than those thin corn ones.

So when I saw these tall, fluffy buttermilk pancakes on Smitten Kitchen, I went for it, even though they are very similar to my go-to pancake recipe. I doubled the amounts (the ones below are mine) and reordered the ingredients. Using my 3-ounce scoop to ladle out the batter, I ended up with 14 little pancakes, which delighted everyone. Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup, and/or use as a base to add blueberries or chocolate chips to the batter.

Again, the way to make a lactose-free buttermilk substitute is to put 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup and top it up with lactose-free milk until you get to 1 cup. Chemically speaking, it’ll work in the recipe, and while it’s true that it doesn’t taste exactly the same as real buttermilk, keep in mind that what you but at the grocery store likely isn’t real buttermilk either. Other options are to replace half the milk with lactose-free yogurt or, according to Cook’s Illustrated, you can add 1 ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar to the dry ingredients for every cup of milk.

2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. fine sea or table salt
4 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, plus more for pan
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups (plus up to 4 Tbsp. more) buttermilk substitute

Preheat oven to 225 °F and place a large baking sheet inside.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter halfway in the bottom of a large bowl, then whisk in sugar. This should leave the mixture lukewarm, not piping hot, but if it still is, let it cool slightly before adding the eggs. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, then 1 ¼ cups of the buttermilk. 

Whisk dry ingredients until they just disappear. (You’re looking for a thick mixture, more like a very soft cookie dough than a pourable batter, but if it’s very stiff, add a bit more of the remaining buttermilk and stir until combined.)

Heat griddle or frying pan over medium. Once hot, add a good pat of butter (please don’t skimp; butter makes crispy edges) and dollop in small mounds of pancake batter — I used a 3-ounce cookie scoop, but Deb Perelman uses a much smaller 1.5-tablespoon scoop. Try to resist the urge to press the mounds into flat puddles; a little nudge is okay, but we’d much rather keep the height here. Once bubbles form on top, lift a corner of each pancake and check for it to be lightly browned before flipping it.

At this point, Deb Perelman likes to reduce the heat to medium-low for the remainder of the cooking time, to make sure that they stay golden instead of getting too dark, but with my stovetop I found that it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Once pancakes are golden brown on the second side, and do not worry if the tall sides look raw, this is completely expected, just transfer them to heated oven. Repeat with remaining batter. Tall, thick pancakes like this almost always hide pockets of uncooked batter; 5 minutes in the oven will fix this. You can leave them in the oven for much longer, however, if need be.

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