A few years ago, when a friend was visiting, I offered to make her chocolate-chip pancakes the morning she’d leave. I am terrible at making pancakes. Of an entire bowl of batter, I think we ended up with two, she and my brother and I standing in the kitchen in our pajamas, wearing glasses and zip-up sweatshirts. The rest of the batch were either burnt and charred or, worse, still goopy inside, wet and uncooked. It’s a good thing there was also cereal around or, frankly, we’d have starved.
I probably don’t have to tell you my problem was timing: Over and over, I’d leave the batter on the skillet too long or, instead, not long enough. I am fairly terrible at timing, and, as the girl who decides her career path after college, I think it’s safe to say this is not just with pancakes.
You probably already know this past Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, was also National Pancake Day. They were even giving away free ones at IHOP to celebrate (How did I miss this?). The origin goes back to England, when people prepared for Lent by clearing out their pantries of all dairy products (butter, eggs, milk) which would be forbidden during the 40 days until Easter.
So just chalk it up to bad timing that I’m posting mine not on National Pancake Day but, instead, six days later later, on the first Monday of March.
Truth is, I’ve been wanting pancakes since I saw a picture of these, piled high and drenched in syrup and butter. Saturday, it was time to try this thing again.
A few initial findings: (1) When you put the batter on the skillet, you really have to leave it there for a few minutes. No nervous peeking beneath to see how it’s coming. (2) If you do things right, small air bubbles with appear in the side of the batter facing you, about three minutes after you put it on there, and that’s how you know when to flip. (3) Because I am just one person, it’s a good idea to cut any pancake recipe in half.
(Of course, cutting things in half in your head, especially while you’re also watching T.V. online, can be problematic. I ended up creating a full batch of the dry ingredients and sectioning off half to use next time, which, maybe, will turn out to be a good thing.)
But here’s what really matters: it worked.
After three minutes on each side on the hot, oiled skillet, the lumpy batter turns smooth and golden brown, with beautifully darkened edges that are just slightly crispy. Buttermilk adds a rich, lightly sour flavor to the dough, complemented by the tartness of the fresh berries, which is especially nice topped with real maple syrup. And the soft texture, creamy and warm as it dissolves on your tongue, at once acidic and also sweet, makes a great start to a morning—any morning, anytime.
Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
Adapted from Boston.com
1 cup flour
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons ( 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Vegetable oil (for the skillet)
Maple syrup (for serving)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add fresh blueberries and gently stir to combine.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the buttermilk, then the butter. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. It’s OK for the batter to look lumpy.
Heat an electric or stove-top griddle or nonstick skillet to medium heat. Add a drizzle of oil to coat the skillet.
Pour the batter onto the griddle, using a 1/4-cup measure and leaving a little space between them. Cook for about 3 minutes on the first side (without touching!) until some bubbles form on top. Flip the pancakes (the side that had been down will now be golden) and cook the other sides until golden. Serve with warm syrup.