It's not blueberry season, but sometimes cold mornings beg for berries--and what better vehicle for those less-than-perfect winter jewels than a stack of buttermilk pancakes? The heat of the griddle pulls the hibernating natural sugars out and the tangy contrast of buttermilk is just enough to get them dressed and out the door (right into your belly!).
Just like with (oven)cake-making, all the factors really do need to be just-so when you're fixing up a batch. The griddle needs to be hot, but not too hot. It should also be greased, but not too greased. The batter must not be overmixed. And let's not even get started on the flipping. Also, depending on how large the crowd you're feeding is, someone is sure to end up with a few cold pancakes.
Even non-beginners have trouble. I was actually flipping pancakes the first time I snapped at my boyfriend. It certainly wasn’t his fault. The fault was that of the skillet, which was too thin and too hot and which was (at that very moment) relentlessly charring three of my delicate pancakes into something rather ugly. I wasn’t angry at my boyfriend. I was angry at the skillet and at myself for not being able to produce perfectly something so simple, so *elementary*, as a pancake.
But he didn’t know this and so, when he tried to slip his arm around me and kiss my neck, I bristled. I tensed right up. I seized, like a drop of water on that cursed fiery skillet, and (ugh, I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this…) I pulled away snapping at him to “just let me do this.”
That's what making pancakes can do. It can make you hot and crazed and very frustrated. They can make you snap at people that you love and leave you wishing you'd just made scrambled eggs and bacon. But it gets easier each time. Like pianos and the paso doble, pancakes require practice.
If I haven't completely talked you out of making these blueberry pancakes (not my plan, I swear!) perhaps some of the following pancake making tips will help. And I'd love to hear any tips that you might have of your own--mine might be good, but they're certainly far from perfect!
My Favorite Blueberry Buttermilk Pancake Recipe (so far...)Hints of orange and almond combine with the blueberries and tangy buttermilk for a really wonderful treat. Lemon and vanilla can also be substituted for another tasty variation. This recipe makes about 8-10 pancakes (enough for two) but can be easily doubled if you're serving more.1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (can also sub 1/2 cup of this for whole wheat flour)1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda1 pinch salt2 tablespoons white granulated sugar1 large egg, beaten1 teaspoon pure almond extract (or vanilla)1 teaspoon fresh orange or lemon zest1.5 cups buttermilk or 1 cup homemade sour milk3 tablespoons butter (try browned butter for extra flavor!), melted and cooled1/2 pint fresh blueberries or other fruitPreheat your griddle to 375 or heat cast iron griddle or skillet over medium heat. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Prepare a large cookie sheet by lining with paper towels or parchment paper and set on the top rack of your oven.Sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt.In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, melted butter, extract, and citrus zest. Add the wet ingredients into the dry, and combine gently until all the dry spots are gone, but some lumps remain. Be careful not to overmix.Brush your griddle with butter and pour the batter a 1/4 cup at a time, making sure to keep the pancakes about 2.5 inches apart. When the batter starts to bubble, drop a few of the fresh blueberries onto the pancake, pressing them in slightly with your finger. Let the pancakes continue to cook until the edges appear set and dry, then flip using your spatula to tuck in any extra batter that escapes.Let cook for an additional minute or two before removing to a paper towel or parchment-lined cookie sheet in a preheated 200 degree oven.Repeat with the rest of the batter until all the pancakes are done, making sure to keep the pancakes in a single layer.