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Buttermilk Pancakes

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Recipe adopted from Cook's Illustrated's The Science of Good Cooking.  [Recipe makes roughly 9 large pancakes].

Pancakes are a staple breakfast food in the States, but often result in dense, chewy masses when a few simple steps are not followed.  As editors at ATK point out, there are two main keys to making the perfect pancake.  First, avoid over-mixing.  If you whisk until all lumps have disappeared and the batter is smooth, you've gone too far and have produced a gluten-heavy, chewy-bound pancake.  The second key has to do with the correct proportions of leavening agents.  This recipe uses baking soda with buttermilk to create a fluffy pancake, and has additional baking powder to add lift when heat is introduced.

INGREDIENTS:

10 ounces (~2 cups plus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 to 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

Before you get started, preheat the oven to 200° F.  Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to a middle rack of the oven.

In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, and melted butter.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir with a rubber spatula for 10 seconds, or until just combined.  [Side note:  As Alton Brown points out in his waffle recipe, there will be lumps.  But keep in mind that the more you mix, the more gluten is formed, and thus, the chewier your pancakes will be.  Chewy pancakes are not Good Eats].  Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.  This will let gluten that has formed to relax, and give you a tender pancake.

During this time, heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat in a nonstick skillet.  Use a paper towel to wipe down the pan and soak up excess oil.  Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, transfer batter to the pan.  As this is a much thicker batter than most, you'll have to spread the batter around until it's roughly 5-inches in diameter.  Once the outside looks set (2 to 3 minutes), use a wide spatula to flip the pancake.  [Side note:  Flip the pancake quickly but gently.  Flipping the pancake from too high from the pan will cause the pancake to deflate and lose some of its fluffy texture].  Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer cooked pancakes to your preheated warming pan and continue to cook the remaining batter, greasing the pan when needed.

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