Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home." She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated."
Easy Light and Fluffy Pancakes With Crispy Edges
Cracker Barrel restaurants serve incredible pancakes. They're light and fluffy with crisp edges, and they boast a moist and tender crumb. How can you recreate these delicious pancakes at home?
- The secret ingredient? Crunchy cornmeal. These are some of the tastiest homemade pancakes you'll ever sink your teeth into. Additionally, plenty of baking powder makes them fluffy.
- The secret method? Be sure to brush the griddle with melted butter before pouring the batter. Your edges will be crispy and delicious, just like Cracker Barrel's. Be sure to follow the tips for foolproof pancakes every time.
Although pancakes made "from scratch" require a little more effort than those whipped up from a box mix, the results are well worth it. Find the recipe and instructions in this article, and at the end of this page, learn about some variations, how to troubleshoot less-than-perfect pancakes and the history of this breakfast dish.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
One dozen medium-sized pancakes
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (see tips for buttermilk substitute)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup yellow or white cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Combine milk and white vinegar. Set aside for a few minutes until the milk thickens slightly. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat with a fork until well blended.
- Sift the dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add wet ingredients to the dry mix.
- Combine gently, mixing only until the ingredients are incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix.
- Heat a griddle to medium-high heat (375°F). Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the griddle. When the water "dances" and sizzles, the griddle is ready to use.
- Brush melted butter onto a hot griddle.
- Pour or ladle about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle.
- Cook pancake on the first side for 1 to 3 minutes or until the surface fills with bubbles.
- With a wide spatula, carefully flip the pancake. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown.
- Serve immediately with butter and your choice of toppings.
- If not serving immediately, place a cookie sheet or large plate in a 200°F oven. Keep pancakes on the plate, without covering them, for up to one hour to keep them warm.
How to Add Blueberries or Bananas
- If using fresh berries: Sprinkle a tablespoon of fresh blueberries or raspberries over the uncooked surface of the pancake before flipping.
- If using frozen berries: Rinse thawed berries thoroughly. Sprinkle a tablespoon of berries over the uncooked side of the pancake before flipping.
- Thinly slice a banana. Carefully lay several slices on the uncooked side of the pancake before flipping.
|If the Pancake Is ...||Then the Problem Is ...|
Griddle temperature was too high.
Dry and pale
Griddle temperature was too low.
Dense or flat
Not enough baking powder was used, or the baking powder wasn't fresh.
Batter was overly mixed.
Pancake was flipped too soon, or it wasn't cooked long enough on one or both sides.
- Always use room-temperature ingredients. Set out the eggs on the countertop the night before.
- Save the hand mixer for cakes and hand stir the batter instead. Gently fold in the ingredients with a spatula until just combined for tender cakes.
- For extra lofty cakes, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the whites until stiff, then gently fold them into the pancake batter.
- A rule of thumb: Thick batter makes thick pancakes; thin batter makes thin pancakes.
Other Useful Tips
- You can omit the butter for lower-fat versions, but be aware that low-fat ones are drier and more cottony.
- If you don't have buttermilk on hand, measure 1 tablespoon of white vinegar into 2 cups of room-temperature milk. Allow the milk to rest while measuring other ingredients (it will thicken slightly). Use sour milk as directed.
- For more nutritious pancakes, substitute 1/2 cup of quick oats for 1/2 cup of flour.
- Cracker Barrel's original recipe includes rye flour. If you'd like, add a couple of tablespoons of rye or whole wheat flour to the unbleached flour.
- Sift dry ingredients for more consistent results.
- Measure out dry ingredients the night before for quick assembly in the morning.
- Be careful not to overbeat the mix because this develops gluten and makes them tough. Use a spatula and fold gently, just until ingredients are incorporated—and not a stir more! It's okay to leave a few flour lumps and streaks in the batter.
- Using a pastry brush, butter the griddle before pouring out each one.
- Pancakes are best enjoyed with real maple syrup and butter.
- Drizzle with Exotic Wild Berry Sauce for a special treat.
- Pour tiny pancakes, four inches across, and build breakfast sandwiches in the style of these Homemade English Muffin sandwiches.
A Brief History of Pancakes
Pancakes are popular all over the world, and they date back to as far as 5th century Greece. Then, they were called tagenites, and these early renditions were made with wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk. In the United States, they are also known as hotcakes, griddle cakes, or flapjacks. Johnnycakes were a traditional cornmeal flatbread popular in early America.