Oh, pancakes. It’s been awhile. You, old friends, are the stuff of fond childhood memories, of Saturday morning cartoons and footie PJs, of sugar-rush rapids of Aunt Jemima and orange juice. By your lacy-edged stacks we might judge the merit of every roadside diner, every greasy spoon, every short-order cook. Flapjacks, griddle cakes, hotcakes, pancakes.
I’ve made attempts with an elderly box of Bisquick, a fancier stone-ground mix, one scratch recipe, then another. Nada. I got pasty, and gummy, and heavy, and then: it worked. It worked! Golden brown pancakes with a tender, appreciably fluffy interior and a hint of tang from buttermilk, warmth and sweetness from whole wheat and a touch of brown sugar. These pancakes hit all their marks for texture and flavor. And did I mention the fluffiness?
I made them for a Mardi Gras dinner (polka-dotting that batch with blueberries), pancakes being the somewhat strange bedfellow for Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday in Ireland and the UK. (Perhaps not surprisingly, pancakes have been around forever and the old-timey iterations, less fluffy and floury than their modern counterparts, were a way to dispense with an excess of butter, eggs and sugar before the ascetic Lenten season.) Olney, England hosts the oldest-recorded pancake race, dating back to Shrove Tuesday, 1445.
In other parts of the world, Rio de Janerio sambas and shakes its glittery, feathered hips for a full week; New Orleans erupts in a deluge of beads and booze. Me, I’ve got a stack of whole wheat pancakes and a pitcher of syrup. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from The Pancake Handbook: Specialties from Bette’s Oceanside Diner
- 2 C whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 C buttermilk
- 1/2 C milk
- 1/4 C vegetable oil, plus more for brushing the griddle
- frozen wild blueberries (use fresh berries in season), thawed and drained; optional
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees with an oven-proof plate or platter inside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, milk and oil. Combine the two, whisking gently and taking care not to overmix. Let the batter rest five minutes; it will look thick and rather lumpy.
Meanwhile, heat an electric griddle, cast iron pan, stovetop griddle or large sauté pan over medium heat. Brush the surface lightly with oil (or use a paper towel to spread it around). Ladle out 1/4 C batter from just above the griddle surface, less than an inch away. After one minute, add a light scattering of blueberries, if using. Continue to cook another minute or two, until the batter starts to bubble. Gently flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Brush more oil as needed between batches.
Keep the first batch of pancakes warm in the oven until you’ve finished all the batter. Serve with warm maple syrup, softened butter and/or my quick blueberry sauce.
Note: using fresh ingredients (flour, eggs, leaveners) will help ensure a fluffy outcome, as will mixing until just combined. To do ahead, whisk the dry ingredients and refrigerate the combined wet ingredients; mix the two right before cooking.